Between ‘Girl Up’ and ‘Sound of Freedom’: Shreya Patel on the muted voices of trafficking films

Sound of Freedom, a 2023 American action film directed and co-written by Alejandro Monteverde, smashed the box office in the very first week of its release. Despite being completed long back, the film’s release was delayed for five long years. While the film continues to enjoy appreciation from all quarters, actor-filmmaker Shreya Patel shares how a similar thing happened with her film ‘Girl Up’.

She explains, “My documentary was the first project ever to talk about this issue before the Bill C-96 got passed. (The Bill enacts the Human Trafficking Awareness Day Act, 2017 and the Prevention of and Remedies for Human Trafficking Act). My film delves into domestic human trafficking, especially highlighting the role of ‘boyfriend’ figures on dating apps luring girls into the sex trade. Yet, its release took an agonizing two-year wait. I eventually took matters into my own hands and self-released it. It received phenomenal responses both nationally and at film festivals. Community members, police officers, and survivors alike have since used it as a valuable tool to educate the public. I got to know that the same thing happened with the Sound of Freedom film, which was released last month.”

Talking about Monteverde’s film, which talks about kids being trafficked, Patel says she engulfed by many emotions. “When I watched it, I was angry, upset and shocked to see how a crime this heinous continues to happen, even with amplified voices and education,” she tells us.

“It’s astonishing that it took half a decade for ‘Sound of Freedom’ to see the light of day. I don’t understand why everyone who has tried to talk about trafficking has faced adversities and has tried to get shut down?,” she adds.

As she wraps up, Patel shares her wish to make another film, “possibly a film about how domestic human trafficking works and raise awareness about it among the people.”

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