Notes To My Father tells a trafficking story, in a way have never seen before. Not only does this VR film allow you to immerse yourself in a trafficking story for the first time, but it is also the first time a story brings to focus the father’s role. This film shares the true story of a daughter and father, and how, working together is the only solution to prevent sex trafficking.
From Kadiri, the so-called “trafficker’s stalking grounds” of Andhra Pradesh, Ramadevi was trafficked to a brothel in Maharashtra.
She had been married off by her father, Kullayappa at the age of just 13. Kullayappa felt that marriage was the only way to keep his daughter safe from the environment of the brick kiln where they lived and worked.
Though they are close now, Ramadevi and her father have never spoken about what happened to her as a teenager. “The truth would kill him”, Ramadevi says.
Kullayappa, like most fathers whose daughters are trafficked in India, didn’t know that his decisions could lead to his daughter being trafficked. Once she was gone, he did everything he could to get her back.
Notes to My Father explores the love, pain and reconciliation between a father and his trafficked daughter. In coming to terms with the role her father played in her perennial story, Ramadevi points to very real solutions for preventing sex trafficking of her daughter and of the next generation.
My Choices Foundation has conducted award-winning research into the compulsions of male behaviour that drives the supply and demand of sex trafficking. Close to 90% of Indian parents have no idea what fate awaits their daughter when a trafficker makes promises of a bright future in the city. In almost every case of sex trafficking, the father makes the decision to let his daughter go because he is trying to live up to expectations of his community, his family, and his pride. Our research won the ESOMAR Paper of the Year award.
The father’s perspective is of critical importance when addressing sex trafficking, but how do you speak to fathers? Our research indicates that the most powerful motivator to encourage behaviour in fathers that benefits their daughters is the aspiration of being a “good” father. By affirming the innate good in fathers, their desire to do good for their families and villages, and encouraging them to make choices – even in difficult circumstances – that benefit their daughters equally, we believe we can mitigate his vulnerability to being tricked by traffickers.
There is no better way to speak to fathers than by telling the story of another real father and daughter, torn apart by trafficking. By showing understanding for the predicaments rural fathers are in – the poverty and vulnerability, the expectations on him, the lack of awareness of danger – and acknowledging his perspective, we include the decision maker in the conversation, rather than alienating him.
To educate India and the world on trafficking, a real survivor’s story must be shared.
The film was showcased at the Oculus House Event during Sundance Film Festival, January 22nd 2017, and made its World Premier at SXSW Film Festival on March 14-16! It will be rolled out in India in following months. The film will be a core collateral for the forthcoming mass media campaign from Operation Red Alert titled “Good Father”.
Oculus initiated VR For Good to help the most promising film makers and the world’s best untold stories find each other and use the immersive medium of VR to engage the world “for good”. VR For Good selected ten rising filmmakers and ten wonderful nonprofits to work together to tell impactful stories through VR. These teams, selected among hundreds of applicants, have the opportunity to create incredible 360 films and bring a variety of social causes to life. To help jumpstart their projects, Oculus is providing educational opportunities, funding, equipment, post production support, and one-on-one mentorship with industry veterans. More on the VR For Good program can be found at vrforgood.oculus.com.
The Filmmaker, Jayisha Patel, is a multi award winning filmmaker whose short films have been shown at festivals such as Berlinale, New York Film Festival and LA Film Festival amongst others. Her first documentary, A Paradise, was nominated for over 36 international prizes, including at the Oscar qualifying Palm Springs Film Festival and Chicago and promoted by the British Council as exemplary British filmmaking. She is the 2015 recipient of the Hot Docs International Film Festival’s Cross Currents Fund and Fellowship for her interactive documentary, Circle. She works as an independent filmmaker for Al Jazeera and the BBC and her works focus on daring, bold and under reported subjects in a delicate and respectful manner. Find out more about her work at www.jayishapatel.com.
Gabo Arora served as Project Mentor and Executive Producer for Notes to My Father. Gabo is the first ever Creative Director of the United Nations in addition to being a Senior Advisor and the Founder-Director of UNVR, the United Nations VR lab. He also runs Light Shed, a VR filmmaking company.
The Director of Photography, Dalton Gaudin, is a Writer, Director, Producer, Cinematographer, Photographer, Ethnographer, and Cameraman. He is a trained ethnographer and documentary/corporate ethnographic interviewer with a Master’s Degree in Visual Anthropology (MVA) from the University of Southern California. His life is dedicated to telling interesting stories, capturing unique images and meeting new people.
The Producing Partner Reel FX teamed up with Oculus for their ‘VR for Good’ initiative, dedicating their internal talent and resources to inspire social change through immersive Virtual Reality content that promotes empathy. Editor Quan Tran teamed up with Jayisha Patel for Notes to My Father.
Special thanks to everyone on the Creative Team.
We are excited to partner with Goodworld, the Case Foundation, and Oculus and we encourage you to donate to our organization here!
More on the reception of Notes to My Father at screenings and in the media. A few of the highlights are below.
“[The film] adroitly and sensitively balances
the perspectives of a father and daughter
coming to grips with the fact that the father
played a direct role in his daughter’s sex trafficking.”
“The 11-minute short film sheds light
on the crisis of sex trafficking in India like
“Virtual reality brings reality of sex trade to viewers”
“Notes to my Father is the world’s first Virtual Reality (VR)
documentary on sex trafficking that highlights the
phenomenon through the experience of actual survivors.”
Your donations make it possible for us to give families the choice to keep their girls safe from exploitation and violence. Help us educate more families, bring awareness to India and run its first national anti-sex trafficking helpline.
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