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Very Young Girls (2007 Showtime), directed by David Schisgall and Nina Alvarez, is a documentary and exposé of human trafficking that follows 13- and 14-year-old African-American girls as they are seduced, abused, and sold on New York’s streets by pimps; while being treated as adult criminals by police. The film follows the barely adolescent girls in real time, using vérité and intimate interviews with them as they are first lured on to the streets and the dire events which follow. The film also uses startling footage shot by the brazen pimps themselves, giving a rare glimpse into how the cycle of street life begins for many women.
The film documents the work of Girls Educational and Mentoring Services (GEMS), a recovery center founded and operated by Rachel Lloyd, a survivor of sexual exploitation. She and her staff help girls sent by the court or found on the street that are working in prostitution. The documentary shows that, given a chance to piece their lives back together, many teeter on edge of two different worlds consistently battling the force that suck them back into the underground. Through the use of unprecedented access to girls and pimps, the producers of the documentary hope to "change the way law enforcement, the media and society as a whole view sexual exploitation, street prostitution, and human trafficking that is happening right in our own backyard."
The film was an official selection in the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival, the 2008 Edinburgh Film Festival, the 2008 Independent Film Boston, the 2008 True/False Film Festival, the 2008 Miami International Film Festival, the 2008 Jerusalem Film Festival, the 2008 Jackson Hole Film Festival, and the 2008 Indie Spirit Film Festival. The cable network Showtime, has broadcast and distributed the documentary.
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