Review

Filmmaker-monk goes after sex trade in documentary 'Stopping Traffic'

However bad you think sex trafficking is — in terms of either the scope or the horrific acts committed — it’s worse. “Stopping Traffic: The Movement to End Sex Trafficking” doesn’t merely cite the overwhelming statistics about the millions of women and girls affected around the globe; the activist documentary makes its message highly personal through individual stories that put faces on the survivors and those fighting against trafficking. The film also offers solutions to live up to the goal of its title.

Director Sadhvi Siddhali Shree, a Jain monk, travels around the world, including the Philippines, Thailand, Iraq and Mexico. She also exposes the industry’s hold in the United States in cities like Dallas and New Orleans. Throughout the film, interviews reveal the pervasive abuses committed against infants, children and teens as well as illuminate groups and people who are working to stop it.

Shree makes her directorial debut here. There are moments where that is clear — particularly in the use of graphics and the film’s structure — but the lack of her team’s expertise in documentary filmmaking is balanced by their earnestness and the purity of the mission. Shree’s film offers insight and intimacy, with survivors being incredibly honest and vulnerable, which will help to drive awareness of the problem and how to fix it.

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‘Stopping Traffic: The Movement to End Sex Trafficking’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 19 minutes

Playing: Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica

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