For the last 20 years Emma Thompson has played fictional roles on the big screen, but her latest project tackles the real-life terrors of human trafficking. Find out how Emma Thompson got involved with Sold, a film on Child trafficking. The project, an exhibit called “The Journey”, highlights the heartbreaking conditions victims of the sex trade face everyday.
One of the fastest growing commodities for sale in the world are children. A recent report on trafficking in India, Zero Traffick, by a team of four foundations working in the area estimates that 16 million women in India have been trafficked into the sex slave trade. The report also estimates that 40% are under the age of 18.
Sold, the film that opened the recent London Indian Film Festival, tells the story of one such trafficked girl. Set in India and Nepal, Sold is about 13-year-old Lakshmi, from a poor village in Nepal who is sold into sexual slavery in India.
Jeffrey D Brown, the director, who grew up in Uganda and whose stepfather is of Bengali descent, first spent three months in India at the age of 10. “India blew my socks off,” he says. When he picked up Patricia McCormick’s book, Sold, he immediately wanted to adapt it for the big screen.
The film is also about a photographer named Sophia, played by Gillian Anderson, who visits India to take pictures of young girls sold into slavery. “Gillian Anderson and David Arquette are friends of mine. They came on board before we did any Indian casting,” says Brown, adding that the Indian actors include: Sushmita Mukerjee and Tillotama Shome.
“But the key to making the film was always going to be the casting of the girl who would play Lakshmi. We spent six months travelling through Nepal and India, and auditioned more than 1,000 girls before we found Niyar Saikia in Assam. Niyar has a 10-year scholarship from the Indian government to study acting and has already been identified as a talent. Her mum is a singer and her dad is a music composer.”
Another important aspect of the film is the support from Oscar-winning actress Emma Thompson as the executive producer. Thompson is president of the Helen Bamber Foundation, which supports women suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of human trafficking. “Emma is someone who has done yoga with the survivors often so she is deeply versed and engaged in this issue.”
The film will raise awareness about human trafficking; Brown along with producer Jane Charles hope to raise money to help organisations in India and Nepal as well as the Helen Bamber Foundation in London.