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Nefarious: Merchant of Souls is a 2011 American documentary film about modern hu man trafficking, specifically sexual slavery.

Presented from a Christian worldvi ew, Nefarious covers human trafficking in the United States, Western and Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia, alternating interviews with re-enactments. Victims of trafficking talk about having been the objects of physical abuse and attempte d murder. Several former prostitutes talk about converting to Christianity, esca ping sexual oppression, and moving on to education or marriage. The film ends wi th the assertion that only Jesus can free people from sexual slavery. Nefarious was written, directed, produced and narrated by Benjamin Nolot, a lead er in Mike Bickle's International House of Prayer and founder and president of E xodus Cry, the film's distributor. Nolot, who travelled to 19 countries to colle ct the film's content, said that the purpose of the film is "to draw people's at tention to the issue, but also to inspire them in terms of what they can be doin g to take a stand against this injustice".[1] The film was officially released o n July 27, 2011, with individual grassroots screenings also taking place. Laila Mickelwait, Exodus Cry's director of awareness and prevention, screened the film in several countries in an attempt to persuade governments to make laws similar to Sweden's Sex Purchase Act, which penalizes the purchasing rather than the se lling of sex. The film was released on home video on May 1, 2012. Interviewees in the film include Canadian journalist Victor Malarek, Jerusalem I nstitute of Justice founder Calev Myers, Christian therapist Dan Allender, clini cal psychologist Melissa Farley, Piet Keesman, feminist Lauran Bethell, Agape In ternational Missions founder Don Brewster, anti-trafficking activist Helen Sworn , former prostitute Annie Lobert, and Swedish detective superintendent Kajsa Wah lberg. Ted Baehr of Movieguide, a Christian magazine, called the film "a powerfu l, compelling and transformational documentary about human trafficking and sex s lavery" and commented that it covered the inherently sexual subject matter candi dly without displaying nudity.[2] Dan Preston of Godculture Magazine praised Nol ot's writing and directing. Nefarious has won a variety of film awards, includin g the Honolulu Film Award for best screenplay, the Urban Mediamakers Film Festiv al best documentary feature award, and the Indie Fest feature documentary award of excellence. Contents [hide] 1 Themes 2 Contents 2.1 Re-enactments and live footage 2.2 Interviews 3 Production 3.1 Background 3.2 Filming 4 Release 4.1 Official release and grassroots screenings 4.2 Home video release and subsequent screenings 5 Reception 5.1 Critical response 5.2 Accolades 6 See also 7 References 8 Further reading 9 External links Themes[edit] A photograph depicting a woman wearing an orange bikini leaning out of an open d oorway in front of a man wearing a black jacket Nefarious contrasts prostitution in the Netherlands (pictured) with the sex indu stry in Eastern Europe, presenting the former as open and public and the latter as secretive and brutal. Nefarious: Merchant of Souls documents modern human trafficking,[3] specifically sexual slavery.[4] While there are men and boys who are trafficked around the w

orld, the United States Department of State (DoS) estimates that about 80% of hu man trafficking victims are female, and the film focuses on them.[5][6] Informat ion is presented from a Christian worldview despite the subject matter, there is n o profanity or nudity in the film, although there are scenes showing alcohol con sumption and women wearing skimpy clothing.[2] Nefarious explores how sex trafficking differs from country to country, and sugg ests that all the victims are both psychologically and emotionally enslaved.[7] One of the initial assertions in the film is that slavery has not been abolished but is increasing, and that half of this slavery is sexual in nature.[2] Nefari ous identifies political corruption and difficult socioeconomic situations as el ements that prevent sex slaves from escaping exploitation, and suggests that mos t victims do not survive for more than seven years after initially being traffic ked.[7] While the violent acquisition of sex slaves depicted in the first sequen ce of the film does occur in reality, Jimmy Stewart of Charisma wrote that most girls who are sexually trafficked in Europe are recruited through a fraudulent o ffer of employment and an improved lifestyle overseas, neither of which ultimate ly materializes in the new country.[8] Nefarious asserts that there is a link between the international sex industry an d legal prostitution in the Western world,[9] and that those who create the dema nd for forced prostitution around the world are of a wide variety of ages and ar e often considered respectable.[10] The film contrasts the secretiveness and bru tality of the sex industry in Eastern Europe with the openness of public prostit ution in the Netherlands. Nefarious suggests that sex trafficking in Southeast A sia is fuelled largely by the complicity of the victims' parents,[8] with many i n Cambodia grooming and then knowingly selling their daughters into prostitution to pay for luxury goods.[7] The film asserts that 10% of the population of Mold ova has been sexually trafficked.[8] Nefarious contrasts Las Vegas prostitutes w ith victims of sex trafficking in Europe, depicting the former as drawn into the sex industry by dreams of a glamorous lifestyle, and the latter as made vulnera ble by child abandonment and orphanages.[7] The film presents human trafficking statistics and assertions from a variety of sources, prominently departments of the United States government and the United Nations. These include that human trafficking is growing faster than any other c riminal industry,[11] that the average age of those forced into prostitution in the U.S. is 13,[12] that the commercial sexual exploitation of children victimiz es almost two million children globally,[13] that 80% of trafficked women and 50 % of trafficked children are sexually exploited,[14] that 161 UN member states e ngage in human trafficking,[15] and that modern slavery has an annual revenue of US$32,000,000,000[16] according to the film, higher than the annual revenues of M ajor League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the National Football League and the National Hockey League combined.[2] The film indicates that "tra fficking is an exploitation of vulnerability" and expresses the need to "take aw ay the stigma that [prostitutes] choose to be there".[17] Kevin Bales of Free th e Slaves is quoted as saying that there are 27 million slaves in the world. The film ends with the assertion that only Jesus can free people from sexual slavery .[2] Contents[edit] Re-enactments and live footage[edit] A dark photograph of a group of people standing on a stone-tiled street corner, one of whom is carrying red and white flowers and two of whom have their eyes bl urred out One scene of Nefarious depicts groups of apparently teenaged girls offering sexu al services to men in Southeast Asia. This photograph, taken by the U.S. Departm ent of State, depicts a similar situation. The film opens with a re-enactment of a girl being kidnapped by organized crimin als. She is confined with other girls[8] in a dark room, lit by a flickering lig htbulb. Men order the girls to remove their clothes, and then examine them and s hout commands and threats at them, causing them to cry from fear. One girl is dr

agged into another room.[18] A victim of ordeals such as these, speaking in voic eover, explains that, in this situation, girls are often taken into a separate r oom to have their sexual performance tested. Identifying these events as taking place near Belgrade, Serbia, the film then tracks the girls through Croatia to A msterdam's red-light district De Wallen, and to sex markets in Berlin and Las Ve gas.[2] Amid legal prostitution in cities, the slavery goes unnoticed.[19] Slave s are depicted in confinement, at their places of work, and as they are sold.[4] Many of the girls are orphans, and all are either kidnapped or tricked into for ced prostitution. The traffickers use hard drugs, mind control and sexual and ph ysical abuse to keep the girls under control.[19] Nefarious covers human trafficking in the United States, Western and Eastern Eur ope, and Southeast Asia.[8] Interviews are interspersed with re-enactments.[20] One of the scenes in Southeast Asia takes place near a karaoke club, and depicts groups of girls, apparently ranging in age from early to late teens, offering s exual services to customers. One of the club's individual rooms, featuring soft light, flat panel displays, bright colors, smooth interior design, and music, is then shown. Benjamin Nolot interviews a police officer, who says that the bar's owner recently bought eight other similar clubs and controls around 2,000 girls .[8] Another Southeast Asian scene shows Nolot and his crew chasing an American[ 1] pedophile out of a town where he was trying to purchase sex with a child.[20] Interviews[edit] A black-and-white photograph of three men sitting on chairs facing each other an d wearing shorts and T-shirts all next to another empty chair Agape International Missions founder Don Brewster (left) was interviewed by Benj amin Nolot (right) for Nefarious. The interviewees in Nefarious include former traffickers, leaders in internation al humanitarianism,[4] social workers, psychologists,[2] human rights experts, a nd former victims of human trafficking.[8] Interviewees include Canadian journal ist Victor Malarek, Jerusalem Institute of Justice founder Calev Myers, Christia n therapist Dan Allender, clinical psychologist Melissa Farley, Amsterdam police official Piet Keesman, feminist Lauran Bethell, Agape International Missions fo under Don Brewster, anti-trafficking activist Helen Sworn, former prostitute Ann ie Lobert, and Swedish Detective Superintendent Kajsa Wahlberg.[21] The film includes an interview with a man referring to himself as "Vlad", who fo rmerly trafficked in humans and drugs in Europe for eleven years. Vlad explains that traffickers control their victims by drugging them, physically abusing them , or threatening to abuse them. He claims that traffickers consider themselves m ost successful when the exploited girls start responding immediately to shouted, one-word commands. Vlad describes beating girls who tried to run away and says that he felt little remorse after such incidents; the large sums of money involv ed made him indifferent to the girls' fate.[8] Vlad surmises that the reason glo bal sex trafficking has expanded is that girls can be sold for sex repeatedly, w hile drugs can only be sold once. When asked how sex trafficking can function on an international scale, Vlad states that the two major contributory factors are organized crime and political corruption.[8] A photograph of a woman standing outdoors while wearing pink lipstick, a black n ecklace, and a black sleeveless shirt with the word "HOOKERS" in pink and the ch ristian fish Annie Lobert, a former prostitute, says during her interview in Nefarious that, since prostitutes are required to constantly appear to enjoy something they do n ot, prostitution is "the greatest acting job". Another interview features an Amsterdam pimp, "Slim",[8] who owns a business all owing passers-by to view scantily clad girls in a display window; they can have sex with them on a mattress in a back room. He initially says that the display w indow women are not in any danger while with a client in the back room, but late r clarifies that the girls should "keep a hand close to the panic button" locate d on the wall.[20] When asked by Nolot if these activities are financed by organ ized crime, Slim hesitates, then says no.[8]

A female human trafficking victim is interviewed with her face hidden. She descr ibes how she and other human trafficking victims in Eastern Europe were held in buildings with security cameras, where they were forced to walk naked down a run way before a group of men who watched under the guise of attending a fashion sho w. She then describes being auctioned off to the audience members, who she says examined her off the runway as one might examine cattle.[8] A 55-year-old woman from England tells the story of how she was first prostitute d in Boscombe, near Bournemouth in Dorset, after being raped as a child in the c ouncil houses where she grew up. She describes running away, being raped again a t the age of 13 and then being locked in a wardrobe in Manchester, and says that she found this situation normal at the time as it was the only life she knew. S he eventually became addicted to heroin. She then describes a vision of Jesus th at she says gave her the strength to escape sexual trafficking at the age of 40 and heroin six years later.[17] Other victims of trafficking speak about having been the objects of physical abuse and attempted murder. Nevada prostitutes desc ribe having gone into prostitution in Las Vegas after watching the film Pretty W oman.[2] Several former prostitutes talk about converting to Christianity, escap ing sexual oppression, and moving on to education or marriage; some of them cry while telling their stories.[20] Lobert calls prostitution "the greatest acting job", explaining that prostitutes have to constantly feign enjoyment while actua lly feeling none.[19] A Swedish government official who is interviewed says that purchasing sex from a prostitute is paying to masturbate into someone.[20] There is also an interview with the leader of an organization working to rescue girls from prostitution in Cambodia.[20] This humanitarian aid worker says that it is not the poorest pare nts who sell their children into sexual slavery but rather the parents who are l ooking to buy luxury goods; he argues that he therefore sees sex trafficking as a spiritual and moral issue that cannot be solved by education or money.[19] In another interview, a man purchasing sex in Thailand says that he believes the gi rls are happy to be working as prostitutes. Another interview features an Americ an man who had been a sex tourist in Asia.[20] Before Nefarious was completed, o ne of the former prostitutes interviewed for the film returned to prostitution; this fact is mentioned in the film.[20] Production[edit] Background[edit] Nefarious was written,[22] directed, produced, and narrated by Benjamin Nolot,[2 0] founder and president of Exodus Cry.[23] Exodus Cry, which distributed the fi lm,[2] is headquartered in Grandview, Missouri[8], and is an organization that o pposes human trafficking[3] by raising awareness, by reintegrating victims back into society, and by prayer.[8] Nolot founded Exodus Cry in 2007 after a woman h e did not know gave him US$10,000, saying that God told her to do so in order th at Nolot might found an anti-human-trafficking organization.[1] This was founded at a prayer meeting later that year[17] where attendees prayed for human traffi cking victims. The organization claims that this prayer meeting occurred on the day before the announcement of the 2007 international child pornography investig ation, which involved approximately 2,400 human-trafficking-related arrests in 7 7 countries.[24] Filming[edit] A black-and-white photograph of three men and three suitcases standing next to a motor vehicle, the rightmost man holding a binder Benjamin Nolot (right) travelled to 19 countries to collect material for Nefario us. Filming of Nefarious was started in 2007,[8] marking Nolot's film debut.[20] The initial plan was to create a short film, but the project was expanded when Exod us Cry realized the scope of the issue they were documenting.[25] Nolot, a leade r in Mike Bickle's International House of Prayer, travelled to 19 countries to c ollect material for the film.[8] These filming locations included countries in t he Middle East, Europe, North America, and Asia.[3] Nolot attested to having fou

nd it difficult to produce the film due to the subject matter; he stated that "t here is not a day that goes by that I am not mindful of the horrific tragedies w e uncovered".[8] He further said that he did not make the film for money or for fame but did so in order to rouse people to action against human trafficking, an issue that he feels to be of great importance.[8] Nolot said that the purpose o f the film is "to draw people's attention to the issue, but also to inspire them in terms of what they can be doing to take a stand against this injustice".[1] Steve Willis and Matthew Dickey were the film's cinematographers. Willis, founde r of Underpin Photography, also served as photographer while Dickey filled the r oles of associate producer and editor, also directing the re-enactment scenes.[2 6] Actors in these re-enactment scenes included Bill Oberst Jr., Christian J. Si mpson, Allison Weissman, Sarah Agor, and Jess Allen.[27] John Samuel Hanson comp osed the film score for Nefarious after having worked on such other projects as 16 Blocks, Constantine, The Book of Eli, and Lost.[26] As of January 2012, Nolot was producing two sequels to Nefarious.[8] Release[edit] Official release and grassroots screenings[edit] A photograph of a blonde woman speaking into a black microphone which she is hol ding in her right hand while wearing a black jacket Exodus Cry's director of awareness and prevention, Laila Mickelwait, toured Nefa rious around the world, attempting to persuade various countries to enact laws s imilar to Sweden's Sex Purchase Act, which makes it illegal to buy, but not to s ell, sex. The film was officially released on July 27, 2011,[2] with individual grassroots screenings also taking place. Nolot appeared at a screening in Appleton, Wiscon sin, and afterwards led a question and answer session with a local police office r. During this time, Nolot promoted the Red Light Campaign, wherein drivers wait ing at red lights pray for sex trafficking to end.[20] Texas State representativ e Todd Ames Hunter attended a screening at the Summit Church in Corpus Christi, saying that human trafficking "is a critical issue to the state of Texas that ne eds education and attention".[28] The Justice Alliance, a Christian nonprofit or ganization that raises awareness about human trafficking, hosted a screening in the auditorium of El Dorado Middle School in Kansas.[29] Florida Abolitionist, a non-governmental organization that also opposes human trafficking, sponsored a screening at the Full Sail University in Orlando, Florida. Most of the attendees were Christians.[8] The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) hosted two screenings of the film in 2012,[9] one of which took place before the parliament of Tasmani a. The government of Tasmania was considering reforms to the Tasmanian sex indus try at the time and the ACL was disappointed because the only politicians who sh owed up to the screening were four members of the Liberal Party.[30] The ACL pla nned screenings in the rest of the states of Australia as well, hoping to convin ce legislators that the criminalization of the purchase of sex is the only effec tive way of combatting sexual slavery.[31] Another screening was held at United Nations headquarters in New York City in March 2012 during that year's session o f the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.[25] Home video release and subsequent screenings[edit] Nefarious was released on home video on May 1, 2012.[24] On June 26, the film ma de its British premiere, following which an interactive panel was held in which the audience was encouraged to fight human trafficking by donating funds, raisin g awareness, and praying.[22] In September, the film was screened at The Rome In ternational Film Festival in Rome, Georgia,[32] the Midwest Christian-Inspiratio nal Indie Film Festival in Chicago, Illinois,[33] and the Atlanta International Documentary Film Festival in Atlanta, Georgia.[34] Nefarious was screened at Oax aca FilmFest two months later.[35] The Rose Marine Theater in Fort Worth, Texas hosted a screening in celebration of Human Rights Day in December.[36] Other scr eenings have taken place in South Korea,[37] Hong Kong,[19] Bermuda,[38] and Can ada.[39] The Hong Kong premiere was attended by such people as Clement Cheng, Lo ri Chow, Cathy Leung, Pamela Peck, Nancy Sit, and Grace Wong, and the subsequent

three weeks of screenings were all sold out.[40] In May 2013, Katarina MacLeod, a former sex slave, spoke at a screening in Peterborough, Ontario hosted by Can adian Baptist Women of Ontario and Quebec.[41] Laila Mickelwait, Exodus Cry's Di rector of Awareness and Prevention, screened the film in several countries in an attempt to persuade governments to make laws similar to Sweden's Sex Purchase A ct, which criminalizes the purchasing rather than the selling of sex. Because Sw eden now has the lowest human trafficking rate in the European Union, Mickelwait argued that such laws decrease the demand for commercial sex and effectively co mbat related organized crime. At some screenings, Exodus Cry solicited funds for the halfway houses it runs in Moldova called LightHouses, where victims of sex trafficking are given help.[19] Reception[edit] Critical response[edit] Professional ratings Review scores Source Rating Movieguide 4/4 stars[2] Both Jim Uttley of Indian Life Newspaper[5] and Jamie Bagley of The News of Cumb erland County called Nefarious "hard-hitting".[4] Uttley further asserted that N efarious "is not an easy film to watch because it deals with a subject that most of us would rather ignore", and he went on to highly recommend the film.[5] Jim my Stewart of Charisma reported that the film gives a human face to trafficking statistics and instils a desire in the viewer to put an end to such criminal act ivity.[8] Ted Baehr of Movieguide,[2] a Christian magazine,[42] called the film "a powerful, compelling and transformational documentary about human trafficking and sex slavery" and wrote that it was amazing that the film covered an inheren tly sexual topic both honestly and without nudity.[2] Baehr praised the cinemato graphy, editing, and filmmaking, but criticized some portions of the film as bei ng repetitive and uncompelling. The Movieguide review ends by comparing the film 's opposition to modern slavery to the death of Saint Telemachus, which put an e nd to gladiatorial games in ancient Rome.[2] Erica Yunghans of Star News Daily c alled the film "controversial".[10] In News Weekly, Babette Francis called Nefarious a "ground-breaking documentary" .[25] Tiffany Owens of World, a Christian magazine, praised the film, describing its storytelling as compelling and vivid.[7] Jamie Rake of The Phantom Tollboot h called the film an engrossing, sometimes appropriately gross, expos that sounds a clarion cry against this modern slavery .[20] Rake praises the re-enactments for b eing appropriately ominous, and for demonstrating the dehumanization and abuse t hat characterize sexual trafficking. He suggests that the film is a modern versi on of This Is the Life, a Christian television series that dealt with social iss ues, and that, if Nolot applied for a Motion Picture Association of America film rating, it would be given a PG-13 rating.[20] Dan Preston of Godculture Magazin e called the film "a hands-on, grimy, honest, explorative piece of journalism".[ 22] Preston praised Nolot's writing and directing.[22] Jennifer Cheng of the Sou th China Morning Post called the film "unnerving" and wrote that it "offers a gl impse into how organized crime, abuse, greed, lust and humiliation intertwine to make human trafficking possible".[19] Matthew Butler of The Review wrote that a 2013 screening of the film at the University of Delaware resulted in students' "horrified silence".[43] Accolades[edit] Year Recipient Award Result 2011 Nefarious: Merchant of Souls