Indian Child Sex Trafficking Doc From the Shadows Selected for Cannes Market Initiative

Indian documentary “From the Shadows,” by Miriam Chandy Menacherry (“Lyari Notes”), has been selected for the Breaking Through the Lens initiative at the Cannes Film Market.

The initiative connects female and non-binary directors to finance at top-tier film markets.

In the documentary, artist Leena Kejriwal relentlessly sprays silhouettes on public walls tagged #missing, activist Hasina Kharbhih accompanies girls rescued from child sex trafficking across international borders, and survivor Samina fights a long and arduous legal battle against her traffickers. Parallel narratives intersect to reveal a sliver of hope when women challenge a powerful trafficking nexus operating in a country where every eight minutes a child goes missing.

Menacherry and her co-producer Aliya Furniturewala began the journey six years ago. ” ‘From the Shadows’ is different from films on trafficking because it shuns sensationalism for a quiet dignified approach. After most of the filming, Samina realized she still did not have a court verdict. She told me she would like her face to be concealed until she gets the judgment. I had to grapple with her wanting to share her story and yet her face that reflects every emotion and nuance to be hidden,” says Menacherry.

“As a woman I understood her but as a filmmaker I went into the edit room with much conflict. This is not the film I had shot… but one I would have to discover how to craft respecting the wishes of a survivor. This was my moment of realizing how life resembles art and art resembles life, much like the silent brooding shadow whose story one must dig deep to discover. Samina’s vulnerable face is edited out, sticking to only the long shots over which her voice spills,” Menacherry adds.

Furniturewala says: “In a society where women need constant approval for acceptance, there appears a girl brave enough to speak up and challenge the very thread of our existence. And why should her voice not be heard?”

Daphne Schmon of Breaking Through the Lens adds: “Our team is greatly inspired by the six-year journey the filmmakers have been on with this film, and the powerful yet delicate way in which they tell the story. Huge congratulations for what they’ve accomplished.”

“From the Shadows” is bound for the festival circuit once it completes post production.

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