Estimated to be a $32 billion trade, sex trafficking is the largest illegal industry in the world. Lost Girls is a social message film, produced by Rough Diamond Productions, designed to educate and provide its audience with a inside story of this very dangerous assault on young girls and boys.
Every mother’s nightmare is the potential of a child being kidnapped. Visions of teens rolling their eyes and claiming their right, somewhat naively, to their freedom come to mind as Marisol’s mother lectures the 16-year-old Marisol (Cristina Cibrian, The Middle) on the need to stay home and do her homework. To rub salt in the wound, Marisol’s mother condemns Marisol’s new friend, Kara (Bar Paly, NCIS, Non-Stop), as dangerous and the wrong crowd. She forbids Marisol from hanging out with Kara. Of course, in the mind of a teen, anything banned by a parent is that much more attractive; Kara becomes the fruit of the poisonous tree. When mom leaves for work, Marisol changes into a provocative dress and sneaks out to go to a club with Kara.
What happens next is frightening. Marisol is drugged and then caged in an underground sex trafficking dungeon. It is then revealed that Kara is a recruiter for the head trafficker, Romina (Marisol Nichols, 24, Big Momma’s House 2) who works with Kara’s very abusive boyfriend, Greg (Will Brandt, Jane the Virgin). Marisol is forced to provide sexual services to older male clients.
Kara struggles with her inner demons as well as a confrontation by Marisol’s mother, who is desperately handing out “missing” fliers seeking information on the whereabouts of her daughter. The pivotal moment comes when Kara must decide between living in fear and continued abuse from her boyfriend or doing the right thing by cooperating with police.
A long list of films produced leads Julia Verdin (Merchant of Venice, Stander, Two Jacks) to her directorial debut in Lost Girls. Verdin’s directorial vision sets a very dark tone revealing the realities of child sex trafficking in the U.S. The film is gripping, compelling and emotional and it sheds light on this increasingly growing and important social issue. Technically sound with captivating cinematography by Peter Holland (The Matrix Reloaded, Seal Team Six: The Raid on Osama Bin Laden), the film is solidly composed.
Unlike many recent films that rely on overpowering sound and special effects, Lost Girls is filmmaking at its core essence, relying on the talent and cinematography to depict the vulnerability in the story. One notable point is the masterful use of a rosary as a symbolic and powerful piece that proves to be poignant to the culmination of the story.
Verdin, who also co-wrote the script, explains the purpose for this passion project, “Millions of children worldwide are trafficked and robbed of their childhoods. Our hope is that our film will help raise awareness on this huge, growing problem and provoke conversation and action to stop human trafficking! We also hope that this film will help open the eyes of teenagers and parents to this potential danger and alert them to keep families safe and together.”
The United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime predicts that “by 2020, child sex trafficking will . . . overtake drugs and weapons as society’s most pervasive crisis.” Accordingly, Verdin’s film is not only a valiant undertaking; it is extraordinarily moving.