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January 21, 2010

Who Are Today's Wilberforces?

Filmmaker finds anti-slavery activists among 3 faiths -- Christian, Muslim, and Hindu

This looks to be an interesting new documentary to put on the radar screen: Sold: Fighting the New Global Slave Trade.

Filmmaker Jody Hassett Sanchez, who wrote, directed, and produced the project, says the film originated from several basic questions, starting with one inspired by 18th Century abolitionist William Wilberforce, whose story was so nicely chronicled in Amazing Grace: "We began by asking, Who are the William Wilberforces of the 21st century? What inspires and motivates them? Are they having success in ending the slave trade? By telling their stories, can we inspire others to take action?"

The result is Sold, which documents the lives of three contemporary abolitionists -- a Christian (in Togo), a Muslim (in Pakistan), and a Hindu (in India).

Sanchez, who covered religion, culture, and education for ABC News and “World News Tonight with Peter Jennings,” says she hopes her film "will do more than just expose the darkness of slavery today. There are already so many films that document what is wrong with the world, exposing us to image after tragic image. . . . The challenge has been to balance the bleakness with hope. I want people to be outraged by the problem but also to be inspired by our three extraordinary abolitionists. Each of them battles a different virulent variety of slavery, with humor, grace, righteous anger and unflagging determination.

"It was important for me to focus on people of different faiths – Hindu, Muslim and Christian – because religion has been intertwined with slavery throughout history. Just as the Bible and the Koran have been manipulated to justify slavery, people of faith have always been on the frontlines of the battle to abolish slavery. The three abolitionists in our film believe that each of us was created in the image of a creator and therefore none of us should 'own' another human being."