Not My Life to Air on Doordarshan, Indian Public Television Network

NEW DELHI: “Every eight minutes a child goes missing in India,” says Kailash Satyarthi, one of the prominent human rights activists interviewed for Oscar nominee Robert Bilheimer’s Not My Life, the first film to depict the harsh realities of human trafficking on a global scale.

“These children don’t just disappear into thin air,” asserts Satyarthi. “They become slaves. They work in factories and in brothels, in agriculture and stone quarries, they make bindis and cigarettes, and they number in the millions. We are in denial about the reality of child slavery and human trafficking not only in India, but around the world.”

 Not My Life, the award-winning film in which Satyarthi appears, has been hailed by critics as a “seminal work” and a “masterpiece.” The 56-minute documentary puts a sharp lens on the multiple forms of child exploitation and human trafficking that exist in almost every country in the world today.

Filmed on five continents, in a dozen countries, over a period of more than four years,Not My Life has been specially edited for broadcast and distribution in India, and is a co-production of Worldwide Documentaries and Riverbank Studios in New Delhi.

The documentary, translated into Hindi, airs on Doordarshan (DD) National, India’s public television network, on June 29th in its “featured film” 9:30 – 10:30 pm time slot.

“From DD’s point of view, the June 29th broadcast is an opportunity to bring the national and international tragedy of human trafficking and modern slavery to the attention of our huge audience,” says Tripurari Sharan, DD’s Director General, “For those who watch- and we hope millions do- Not My Life is both an eye-opener and a profoundly moving call to action. We here at DD are proud to be a launching pad for what we all hope will be a sustained awareness effort throughout our country in the years to come.”

The telecast is sponsored by the Carlson Family Foundation, which supports international efforts to protect children from human trafficking and exploitation. Carlson is a family-owned multi-national travel and hospitality business and the largest international hotel company in India, with more than 15,000 employees nationwide.
The Doordarshan broadcast of Not My Life marks a watershed moment in a six-year—and ongoing—effort to bring the realities of global human trafficking and child exploitation to the attention of a global audience. “This project was, and is, a labor of love,” Oscar nominee and Not My Life director Robert Bilheimer says. “Throughout the production, and now in our efforts to share the film with millions around the world, we kept asking,‘who will speak for those who cannot speak for themselves?’  In the end we felt that making Not My Life was not only our job, but our mission, because far too much silence still surrounds this issue.” 

Plans are already underway for a re-broadcast of Not My Life on DD in November 2014, along with an Indian premiere of Not My Life in New Delhi, and the announcement of a three-year community-based awareness campaign designed to radically alter how Indians from all walks of life understand, and respond to, human trafficking and modern slavery crimes. 

India is has the world’s largest number of trafficking and slavery victims, many of whom are children. Exploitation and slavery in India includes sex trafficking, and multiple forms of slave labor. Victims of these practices are conservatively estimated to number more than 10 million.  

India is by no means alone, however, as a country where children, women, and men are trafficked within, or across, a nation’s borders. Human trafficking is emerging as one of the cruelest and most widespread human rights violations of modern times.  It is also big business, with billion-dollar annual profits rivaling profits reaped by criminals who deal in arms and narcotics.

Bina Rani, CEO of iPartner India, the NGO spearheading the nationwide awareness campaign being launched with the DD telecast of Not My Life, notes that Indians need to understand trafficking and slavery in both national and international contexts. “One of the many compelling features of Not My Life for Indians is that it does not shy away from the problem we have here, but it also helps us understand that we are not alone in this.  Trafficking and slavery are human problems, really, not just Indian problems.”

Mike Pandey, whose Riverbank Studios produces the popular environmental series“Earth Matters” for DD, and co-produced Not My Life / India, argues that nothing less than a “tsunami” is needed if exploitation, trafficking, and slavery are to end, “We have to start somewhere,” Pandey says, “and Not My Life on DD on June 29th is as good a beginning for an undertaking of this scope and ambition as any I have seen in a long time.”

Director Robert Bilheimer agrees.

“There’s a wonderful statement at the end of Not My Life by Kailash Satyarthi,” Bilheimer says.  “And what Kailash tells us is that if we rediscover, and reanimate, that profound sense of moksha and mukti embedded in Indian culture-- that sense of liberation and release-- then we can indeed create a tsunami and turn this issue around. We have a big vision here, but it’s doable, I believe, and that’s why we are all so excited about Not My Life on DD at the end of this month.”  

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