Human trafficking happens in almost every country around the world, including the United States. Sadly, it also happens within the reach of our very own eyes, to every social, ethnic, and racial group. The base of the issue is the traffickers’ goal of exploiting and enslaving victims and the coercive and deceptive practices they use to do so.
Activists who personally travel to rescue many victims of child trafficking and child labor know it affects the most vulnerable in our communities—boys and girls, sometimes lured by false promises of education and a “better” life. One of them is Diana Davis who founded the non-profit organization MoviesMakingADifference. Davis learned a few years ago about the appalling situation of corruption and organized pedophilia hiding under the guise of a twisted religion, that was and is, rampant in her home state of Arizona. Then, she produced MoviesMakingADifference’s first film about it.
Movies can make a difference, especially on human trafficking in the US, a topic people are aware of, yet not involved enough as the issue demands. Efforts to bring the issue to the forefront of our politics and social justice spotlight include funding and raising awareness.
Cult Cartel, a movie produced by MoviesMakingADifference, recently premiered in West Palm Beach at the site of The Ben Hotel with a reception where guests met a range of philanthropists and dignitaries that support the non-profit organization founded by Davis.
The gala prior to the movie screening served to raise needed funding for services provided to the survivors and to raise awareness as an unfathomable world still lurks just beneath the surface of many homes.
Cult Cartel is the story of a rescue mission. This film actually employed many of those who have managed to escape or been banished from the community with little education, no family support, or understanding of the outside world. For years they have been struggling to rebuild or rather begin their lives. The film empowers them to finally have a voice and enlighten those that have so long ignored their plight.
A family lives in a remote area where the fiery Arizona desert-scape meets the nightly cool Utah breezes as the sky sets creating magnificent sunsets. Yet, it is not for this family, nor countless others of Colorado City, a small town in Mohave County, known as the Arizona Strip. It is there—a place we know that only God can create such beauty—that the unfathomable still lurks just beneath the surface.
Colorado City is where the Cult Cartel was filmed and while the movie addresses some of the darkest realities that some of our children face every day, there is a bright light, an aura of hope, and a sense of celebration as we witness the transformation from victim to victor in this astonishing story.
Co-produced by Julia L. Rosengren and Conrad N. Hilton, Cult Cartel included many of the escapees which have featured roles like survivor Young Barlow who plays his older brother. The star-studded film also includes Jud Taylor, Don Most, Britt George, Jose Rosete, Winsor Harmon, and Noelle Wheeler, as well as, cameos from Palm Beach that include Joe Budd Maniscalco, Debbie Dailey, Lavinia Baker, and Barbara Heilman.
There are a number of racial myths and stereotypes associated with sex trafficking. While available evidence shows that racial minorities are more likely to be victims of sex trafficking, there is no truth behind the stereotype that certain races of men are more likely to be traffickers than men of other races.
Every country in the world is affected by human trafficking, and as a result, children are forced to drop out of school, risk their lives, and are deprived of what every child deserves – a future. With a determination to tell their stories as script consultants, facing their painful pasts, and to plead with the public to join them in MakingADifference, Cult Cartel makes helps to shed light on an issue that needs to stop once and for all and never happen again.
Online at moviesmakingadifference.org
Photo Gallery: Gala event for Cult Cartel at The Ben, Autograph Collection, downtown West Palm Beach on Sunday, May 23, 2021. (Photos by Rolando Chang Barrero)