It's been an exciting couple of months for Walking Merchandise, with over 7,000 online views and screenings at the Rhode Island Film Festival, Artivist Film Festival, NewFilmmakers New York, and Columbia University. We have several more screenings lined up - two in New York and one in Philadelphia. So, if you haven't had a chance to see it on a big screen and want to join a Q&A discussion with the filmmakers, we invite you to come join us!
IIHA Screening at Fordham University Lincoln Center
The Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs will screen Walking Merchandise on Wednesday, January 30 at 7 p.m. in McMahon Hall, Room 109. Q&A with the filmmakers and experts in the field to follow. Space is limited.
LaSalle University Screening and Talk
Walking Merchandise will screen at LaSalle University on Thursday, February 21 at 12:30 p.m. as part of the Diplomat in Residence Program. The screening will be held in the Dan Rodden Theatre with a Q&A discussion to follow. No RSVP necessary to attend.
IPED Screening at Fordham University Rose Hill
The International Political Economy and Development program will screen Walking Merchandise at Fordham University's Rose Hill campus on Thursday, February 28. More information to follow.

October 23, 2012 
The panelists for this event included (L to R): Dr. Beth Fisher-Yoshida; Dr. Ted Perlmutter; Lauren Burke; and Ethan Downing. 
The discussion includes some initial comments and reactions to the film, as well as a Q&A session with the panel, audience and filmmakers. If you haven't had the opportunity to make it to a live screening and Q&A session, this video may provide some helpful additional info on the issues presented in the film. 
Our thanks to Columbia University's Master's Program in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution and AC4 for their role in hosting this event. 
We are proud to announce that NewFilmmakers New York has selected Walking Merchandise for its documentary short film program, screening at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, December 5th.
NewFilmmakers, now in its 14th year, plays at the historic Anthology Film Archives on Second Avenue. Since 1998, NewFilmmakers has been host to over 600 feature films and 2,000 short films.
Walking Merchandise will be the third documentary short in the evening's program. The preceding selections will include '10 Years On, Afghanistan & Pakistan', directed by Kathleen Foster, and 'DHARMA', directed by Elizabeth Jaeleigh Davis.

There will be a brief filmmaker Q&A following the screening.
Tickets are $6, and will be available for purchase at the door.

NewFilmmakers New York
December 5, 2012 at 6:00 p.m.
Anthology Film Archives
32 Second Avenue (at 2nd street)
New York, NY 10003

Tickets: $6

Thanks very much to ARTIVIST Film Festival and everyone who came out for the West Coast Premiere last Saturday.  It's been an exciting couple of weeks, with back to back screenings in New York City and Los Angeles, as well as with launching Walking Merchandise online. If you weren't able to make it to either screening, we of course encourage you to watch the film in its entirety here.
The screening was followed by a Q&A session, moderated by ARTIVIST. There were a lot of great questions, and we were lucky that Julie To and Jason Pu - lawyers who were featured in the film for their work with trafficked children - were in the audience and able to join us on stage for the conversation.

As often happens during many of our screenings or conversations about the film, the question of "What can I do?" came up. We love hearing this question, because it means that people want to tackle this issue. But unlike documentaries about global warming or green food production, the answer isn't as straightforward as "turn off the lights when you leave the room" or "eat more organic food."  It's tough to pin down a single step that people can take in day to day life that will combat international human trafficking.

But this does not mean you aren't a crucial part of the equation.

You are.

If you are moved by what you see, please check out the Help page, and consider donating or volunteering with one of the wonderful organizations working on this issue. Their expert knowledge and familiarity with these children's struggles, combined with your help and support, can make lasting positive change in these children's lives.

ARTIVIST is a film festival focused on human rights issues, and is an official NGO member of the United Nations Department of Information.
Thanks very much to all of the supporters and interested persons who attended the New York City Premiere last Tuesday. We were overwhelmed with the response. The event was booked to capacity days in advance, with a growing wait list that followed. Fortunately we were able to accommodate everyone on the night of the event, and for anyone who was unable to attend, we of course encourage you to watch the film in its entirety here.
Last Tuesday's screening was followed by a lively panel discussion, moderated by Beth Fisher-Yoshida, academic director of Columbia University's Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Program, and featuring Lauren Burke, Ethan Downing, and Dr. Ted Perlmutter. We had some great questions from the audience, and will be posting a video recording of the panel discussion here in about two weeks.

Coming up this weekend is the ARTIVIST Film Festival in Los Angeles, CA. ARTIVIST is a film festival focused on human rights issues, and is an official NGO member of the United Nations Department of Information. For screening details, check out our West Coast Premiere page. We would love to see you there.

One of the attendees at Tuesday's event noted that for a documentary film like this, a premiere event is only the beginning of the work, and that's very much true. In the past week that the film's been online, it has accumulated over 600 views, from places as near as Canada to those as far as China. Since sharing the film online, we've received inquiries from universities interested in screening the film for their classes. These are all great signs, and we hope this momentum continues so that more people can learn about this issue, and be motivated to seek ways that they can help.

Ethan Downing will be our third panelist for Tuesday's event, offering insights learned through the course of his research on snakehead smuggling and child labor issues, and through his work on this film.

Ethan graduated from Fordham University in 2006 with an undergraduate degree in Philosophy. In 2010, he completed Columbia University's Masters Degree program in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution. His capstone thesis project focused on the snakehead smuggling networks and the people who travel through them. Walking Merchandise grew out of this  project, as a way to spread word about this issue to a larger audience.

His documentary credits also include work on the Uganda production team for the documentary feature Drinking From the Well. Narrative short film credits include "Adjudication" (co-director), and "The Shuffle." (actor, Eduardo).

In 2009, Lauren Burke was working as a Skadden Fellow at The Door, a youth services center in New York City. As a member of the legal department, and a fluent Mandarin speaker, she worked with a large number of Chinese adolescents on their immigration cases. It wasn't long before she started seeing a pattern in her clients' lives. They were being sent from China to the U.S. by their parents, with no choice but to work underage to pay off massive smuggling debts and to send money home to their families.

Lauren soon became an authority on this particular brand of trafficking, connecting with attorneys, social workers and organizations around the country in order to help these young persons in need.

In 2011, she formed Atlas: DIY, a cooperative empowerment center for immigrant youth and their allies. Later that year, she took a position as the first staff attorney at the New York Asian Women's Center.

Most recently, through Atlas: DIY, she has been leveraging the power of the web and social media to disseminate essential information to young persons who may be eligible to apply for Deferred Action. Atlas: DIY's videos on Deferred Action have accumulated over 43,100 views.

We're privileged to have had the opportunity to interview Lauren for this film, and look forward to her contributions to the panel discussion following the screening on October 23.

One of the goals for 'Walking Merchandise' has always been for it to be not only a compelling short film in its own right, but also to be a jumping off point for for productive conversations about child advocacy, labor and immigration issues. Our imagined best case scenario would be for interested persons to watch the film in a group environment, and be spurred on to discuss these issues or learn more about them after the final credits have rolled.

In that vein, the event on October 23rd has been structured to include not only the New York premiere of the film, but also a panel discussion with people working on immigration and child advocacy issues. We'll be posting information about each of the panelists as we approach the screening date.

Today we're pleased to announce that the panel will include Dr. Ted Perlmutter, Lecturer in the Negotiation and Conflict Resolution (NECR) program at Columbia University. Dr. Perlmutter has a background in political science, immigration issues and sociology, and teaches a course on Conflict, Social Networks & Communications Technologies as part of the NECR curriculum.

Dr. Perlmutter has been a supporter of Walking Merchandise since it's early stages, having connected us with Jordanna Birnbaum Amsel, who contributed a number of posts for this blog, and having given us the opportunity to discuss the film with students at NYU and in Columbia's NECR program.

We're very pleased that Dr. Perlmutter will be joining us, and we look forward to his contributions to the panel discussion on the 23rd.

Dr. Ted Perlmutter

Ted Perlmutter is a Lecturer in the Negotiation and Conflict Resolution program at Columbia University, where he teaches a course on "Conflict, Social Networks, and Communications Technology". He works as the Knowledge Management director of a Genocide Prevention Program (GPP) jointly sponsored by the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University and Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict, and Complexity (AC4) at Columbia University. In the past, he worked at the Center for International Conflict Resolution at Columbia as a Knowledge Management director, focusing on a serious of projects in Iraq related to internal displacement, civilian monitoring of electoral violence, and conflict assessment. He holds a B.A. in Political Science from Wesleyan University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Sociology from Harvard University. He has worked on immigration issues, teaching undergraduate courses on immigration politics and has published articles and book chapters on immigration in Italy and Germany.

His research in this area includes work with Suzette Brooks Masters on a Ford Foundation sponsored project entitled "Networking the Networks: Improving Information Flow in the Immigration Field."

We are thrilled to announce that Walking Merchandise has been officially accepted to the 2012 Artivist Film Festival. As the only film festival that is an official NGO member of the United Nations Department of Public Information (UN-DPI), Artivist is dedicated to raising awareness for human rights, children’s advocacy, environmental preservation, and animal advocacy through international films.  Check out the West Coast Premiere page.
From the Artivist website:
"The 9th Annual Artivist Film Festival & Artivist Awards will take place Thursday, November 1 through Sunday, November 4, 2012 at Barnsdall Theatre & Art Park in Hollywood, California.  This year’s festival will screen 31 international advocate films raising awareness for human rights, children’s advocacy, environmental preservation, and animal advocacy. Guest speakers include international filmmakers, community leaders, and representatives from prominent NGOs."
9th Annual Artivist Film Festival
November 3, 2012 at 2:30 p.m.
Barnsdall Theatre & Art Park
Hollywood, California
Screening & Ticket Information
SAVE THE DATE for the New York City premiere of  Walking Merchandise,
followed by a panel discussion with experts in the field, and a short Q&A session with the filmmakers.

We are thrilled to be able to premiere the film in NYC at Columbia University -- a location that has played an integral role in the making, and the success, of this film.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012
6:30 p.m.
Columbia University

More details are on the way, so make sure to use the form below to sign up for our mailing list to receive the invitation and updates about the event!