Cara Dienst '17 raises awareness about sex trafficking.
Recently, student activist and senior leader Cara Dienst brought the movie SOLD to campus for a special screening with Academy Award-winning director Jeffrey D. Brown. Cara has been working on this project for several months—starting with an internship in the summer—and has continued her work to help promote the film as her winter independent project.
Cara is deeply dedicated to human rights and took the time to answer some questions about her current project.
How did you get involved with SOLD?
I was introduced to the director, Jeffrey D. Brown, by one of my mom's closest friends who knew my interests regarding human rights. I worked with him starting in mid-July and finished up at the beginning of September. I really missed the work that I was doing so I picked it up again as an independent project this winter. I have been working as an intern helping out to promote the film by gathering support for showings and instructing inspired people on how to host a screening themselves. I also held a screening with the director at Thacher and went to the LA premier with the director and main actress (which was incredible!).
What is the movie about? The movie tells the story of a 11-year-old Nepalese girl who is trafficked in India. It is really the story of her survival. I don't want to give away too much, but it really showcases her intelligence and bravery. The film aims to inform and motivate its viewers about one of the most horrific and widespread problems on Earth. The film is based on the global bestseller by Patricia McCormick.
Other than raising awareness, does the film benefit the victims of sex trafficking in any way?
Yes! It exists exclusively to benefit survivors and current victims of sex trafficking. The film is partnered with roughly 20 organizations that help rescue, heal, and teach victims. The film has never really been a monetary instrument. The director, Mr. Brown, has dedicated over 10 years to this film, and does not really have any intention of making money off of it. He won an Oscar in the 80s, realized he wanted to do something more fulfilling, and has since dedicated massive amounts of time, money, and energy into this film. Creating the film was, quite honestly, the most selfless thing I can think of and I am happy to be a part of it. Since its release, the film has become somewhat of a movement. It is spearheading a new era in the fight against sex trafficking.
What are your thoughts having worked on this project? Have they changed or evolved since you started?
Working with Jeffrey on SOLD has been one of the most important experiences of my life. As a high school student, there are very few options in terms of internships that actually allow you to do something meaningful. I got very lucky with SOLD in that I am doing very meaningful work for a cause I believe fully in with some of the most incredible people I have ever met. Every time I see the movie, I am reminded of why I want to do what I do. I hope I can continue my work with Jeffrey for as long as possible. At the risk of sounding cliché, my heart fills with gratitude and warmth every time I feel like I make a difference, which, with my independent, happens almost every day.
I was truly surprised at the amount of work I have been trusted with. Jeffrey does not know my GPA, test scores, or anything that would officially prove I am capable to do anything. However, he saw something in me that makes him trust me with important tasks. The mobilization deck I rewrote is on the website, and I am responsible a good amount of the writing and most of the formatting in there.
I was so honored and happy to show this film at Thacher. Thacher is such a generous, unique community and I knew that bringing it here would be inspirational for at least a few people. When thinking of audiences for SOLD, Thacher is ideal: young, motivated people with an incredible capacity for compassion. Additionally, because the students are young, they can relate with the protagonist and victims of sex trafficking in general, whose average age is around 12. I am so glad and thankful that it worked out so well.