Producer/director Ondi Timoner has the rare distinction of winning the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival twice. Her 2004 doc, Dig!, explores the star-crossed rivalry of the Dandy Warhols and the Brian Jonestown Massacre, while her 2009 top prize-winner, We Live in Public, examines privacy in the virtual age through Internet visionary Josh Harris’ social experiments. Her company A Total Disruption releases weekly short docs about thought leaders and doers who are transforming our lives through technology.
“A lot of girls who get into prostitution are looking for love … The love comes from home. It is all about nurturing. When you are not nurtured at home, you go onto the streets, and you try and find that love, but that love is not there. You are a pawn to people’s desires, so becoming a pawn you become addicted to the artificial love and the nurturing, and then the money is connected, so now you are in this fast-paced life that you cannot seem to get out of.”
An emotional statement said by photographer Heather Hunter in Episode 3 of WeTalk, “Women on the Edge,” as she reflects on her personal past and the slang term “blowing up,” which is used when a prostitute leaves their pimp. Hunter explains that this can have dangerous repercussions because one comes out of that form of exploitative dependency with no home or form of protection.
The panel features award-winning filmmaker and director Stephanie Wang-Breal, who premiered her film Blowin’ Up at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. The documentary looks at sex work, prostitution and human trafficking through the lens of our nation’s first human trafficking intervention court in Queens, New York. It also examines the program GEMS, which provides holistic services for girls and young women who have been sexually exploited or domestically trafficked.
Eliza Hook, who ran the criminal court advocacy program and was a GEMS counselor, is a key figure in Blowin’ Up and joins the panel to discuss her role and relationship in mentoring these women exiting the industry. Hook comments, “Often people ask me what successes I’ve had. Success looks very different for everyone.” She stresses that it is not so much about success, but rather about creating options or opportunities for these women.
Heather Hunter, formerly in front of the lens in the adult entertainment industry, is now a celebrated icon behind the lens. She joins the conversation from a personal perspective, as her past instigated a personal mission to help other women in the industry find new avenues to express and embody themselves sexually: through the outlet of photography. In her photographs, most of her subjects are prostitutes, who she portrays in the light that they would like to be seen in.
Rabbi Rachel Timoner also joins the panel as she discusses redemption and renewal and where those topics fall within this conversation. Rabbi Rachel, who has launched several social justice initiatives at her temple in Brooklyn, mentions that these initiatives were her way of using what privilege she had to stand up for what is right.
Host Ondi Timoner concludes the discussion explaining the importance of us all becoming involved in raising up the least powerful among us.
Photo Credit: Jolene Siana
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