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New film puts spotlight on child sex trafficking in Tucson and rest of U.S.

"Wake Up" is eye-opening film focused on kids in foster care
Posted: 9:27 PM, Jan 05, 2022
Updated: 2022-01-07 15:53:19-05
6 WAKE UP - (LtoR front) Pragathi Guruprasad, Tori Griffith, Shirley Chen; (LtoR back) Malakai Carey, Chasnie Houston (1).jpg

TUCSON, Ariz.(KGUN) — It's an eye-opening story with shocking undertones. The makers of the film “Wake Up” say it's a much-needed education for parents and kids about child sex trafficking, movie has been 7 years in the making.

The 90-minute movie shown at the Roadhouse Theatre in Tucson is about a pair of foster kids who get targeted and forced into a sex trafficking ring. Writer, director and actress in the film Janet Craig and producer Kristen Wise wanted to raise awareness about what's happening not only in Tucson but across the country including the suburbs. The film makers also wanted to release the film during January which is “Sex Trafficking Awareness Month”.

“This movie is to bring the whole world to hear the stories of what’s going on out there. We’re both foster moms so a lot of the things that we’ve seen personally inspired us. Some of the stories are real stories that we’ve experienced as foster moms. This movie is not only about trafficking but about foster youth,” Craig said.

The scenes get raw and to the point of what happens to victims when they get pulled in and the difficulties for those who try to save them. Executive Director of the Children’s Advocacy Center of Southern Arizona Marie Fordney who also participated in a panel during the premier says trafficking can happen anywhere. She also says that children in foster care who have already been abused are especially vulnerable to predators in the future.

"We recently had a case at the Children’s Advocacy Center of two young girls who were lured by this man to his apartment and then held captive there for several days while investigators while investigators found them and got them to safety. So, it is happening in our own back yard every day,” Fordney said.

In 2020, The Center for Missing and Exploited Children received more than 17,000 reports of possible sex trafficking.

Wise and associate producer of the film Tom Pothoff say that people need to speak up when with see issue in their community.

"60 to 70 percent of kids who are trafficked have been in the foster care system,” Wise said.

“We have to notice things and shout out to help these poor kids who are being abused and victimized,” Pothoff said

There was also a panel discussion with local advocates and law enforcement after the film to talk about the issue.

“We would like for everyone to wake up. We wanted to bring everyone into this because everyone can do one thing. This is our one thing to help people get excited about fighting trafficking and being part of a solution,” Craig said.

Wake Up is on a 10-city tour and the next stop is Dallas, Texas. Tickets at the Tucson premiere were sold out.