Agnès Films – Film Review of Sands of Silence |

Agnès Films, supporting women and feminist filmmakers recently reviewed, Chelo Alvarez-Stehle’s Sands of Silence, documentary film. The review by Julie Caper Roth, says: “Sands of Silence demonstrates that trauma is not merely the plight of women in far-off lands. It can exist close to home and can only be felled by transparency and communication. The narratives contained within the documentary make this film a helpful resource for individuals and groups tackling the issues of abuse and sex-trafficking.”

New York, Monday, July 11th, New York Bar Association

Monday, July 11th, 6 pm
Equality Now
The Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice
Co-hosted by Apne Aap Women Worldwide

Screening & Q&A with

Director Chelo Alvarez-Stehle

and main character, survivor Virginia Isaias,

President of Human Trafficking Survivors Foundation
New York City Bar Association

42 West 44th Street, New York, NY 10036

New York City Bar Association

42 West 44th Street, New York, NY 10036

Access to technology can counter sexual exploitation | FORBES


SANDS OF SILENCE Film Campaign Featured in Forbes Magazine:

by Rebecca Sadwick and Sarah Godoy

Forbes Magazine


Forbes Magazine – Febr. 29, 2016 – “In a campaign that calls for immediate action, Chelo Alvarez-Stehle’s film Sands of Silence: Waves of Courage has engaged a global community by illustrating cultural and systemic factors that reinforce the sexual abuse continuum.”
In addition to the dialogue and democratization of discourse, free and openly accessible social media platforms facilitate a space for victims and survivors to communicate, access help, and build new communities.

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When there is no reason to feel grateful | Malibu Chronicle

By Chelo Alvarez-Stehle

Feeling grateful when you have plenty is easy. Feeling grateful when you’ve been robbed of the most fundamental possessions in your life: your freedom, your dignity, your sense of being, seems like an impossible task. But not for Virginia Isaias, a survivor of sex trafficking whose journey is part of the documentary film Sands of Silence: Journey into Trafficking, which I am producing/directing and which we hope to release in 2015.

Virginia Isais -Human trafficking art workAfter enduring years of violence at the hands of the husband she was forced to marry at 16, Virginia Isaias left her home in Southern California for her hometown in Mexico. There, Virginia started a business selling clothes to ranchos. One early morning, as Virginia was breast-feeding her baby at a market, she felt a blow in her back. When she woke up she found herself in a shack hundreds of miles away in the midst of the Chiapas jungle. The traffickers told her that her baby had been sold, and using excruciating torture methods, forced her into prostitution.

Virginia eventually escaped and returned to the U.S. . Starting from zero, she cleaned houses and worked for over ten years at a parachute factory, scrimping and saving to buy a humble house. Virginia became a U.S. citizen. In 2010 she created Human Trafficking Survivors Foundation, a501(c)3 in Anaheim, CA. She invested her meagerVirginia Isaias and Meryl Streep savings in her foundation, and risked losing her house in the endeavor. With no more resources than her passion, Virginia became a walking hotline. When she was asked to help rescue a victim of domestic violence who had been burned and disfigured with acid and was hanging to life by a thread, Virginia did not hesitate to risk her life and travel far into Mexico. The mothers of the three recently disappeared young girls in Anaheim, reached out to Virginia’s foundation when they felt authorities were not making a huge effort in rescuing girls that allegedly had links to prostitution. Phone calls regarding cases of labor trafficking, sexual trafficking, domestic violence or child abuse, are the norm in Virginia’s day to day. This is why Virginia organizes educational outreach events and has a following of hundreds of Latino women throughout Southern California, many of whom do not speak English and would never think of raising their issues with the police. Virginia is thankful for being alive and everyday she strives to share her gratitude with others in need.


Virginia was nominated to the 100 Make a Difference project, along with celebrities from Gwyneth Paltrow and Maria Shriver to Prince Edward and Eva Longoria.

Please help Virginia in her efforts by donating to Human Trafficking Survivors Foundation (Fundación de Sobrevivientes de TráficoHumano), a 501(c)3: (click on “Donaciones”)

Please help finish this independent and labor of love documentary through a tax-deductible donation:

Working to change human trafficking | Malibu Life |

Malibu filmmaker launches entertainment-based campaign to stop 21st-century slavery — By Bibi Jordan / Special to The Malibu TimesMalibu filmmaker Chelo Alvarez-Stehle is bringing focus to a delicate, but all too real problem that most Americans assume no longer exists: slavery. She is one of a group of Malibu activists determined to educate teens about human trafficking, the most pervasive modern form of slavery.To this end, she is currently producing a transmedia project that combines a documentary film, “SANDS OF SILENCE: A Personal Journey Into the Trafficking of Women,” and a social impact, web-based game, “SOS_SLAVES: Changing the Trafficking Game.”This is a timely campaign given that January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Evidence of this global problem can even be seen on the local level. The Los Angeles Times ran an article in December about the naturalization of a 22-year-old girl from Egypt who had been smuggled into the United States and enslaved in domestic servitude for ten years by a wealthy couple living in Irvine. In 2010, a Beverly Hills recruitment agency was indicted in the largest human trafficking case in U.S. history.“My first encounter with sex trafficking took place fourteen years ago in the Himalayas,” Alvarez-Stehle said. There she met a young girl named Anu Chari Maya Tamang who, as a teenager, had been trafficked by fellow villagers to India. Dumped in a brothel and forced to work as a prostitute, she attempted to end her own life. Thankfully, she survived the suicide attempt and 22 tortuous months as a sex slave.  Read more

Source: Working to change human trafficking | Malibu Life |

Californians Target Human Trafficking | VOA

LOS ANGELES – A recent U.S. State Department report says 27 million people worldwide are subject to forced labor and sexual slavery. A major effort is under way in California to fight the problem. Virginia Isaias was forced to marry at 15 in her native Mexico, and later kidnapped with her six-year-old daughter and forced into prostitution. Her story is told in a documentary now being produced, called Sands of Silence. Isaias herself is now an anti-trafficking activist who talks about the cost of human trafficking to groups such as this one, in Santa Ana, California.

Source: Californians Target Human Trafficking

“They take your baby and give it to another woman and they give another woman’s baby to you. So a mother is less likely to flee. They also threaten you and have people watching over you,” said Isaias.

IsaIas escaped and paid a ransom for her child. Her story is all too common, says filmmaker Chelo Alvarez-Stehle.

“Because of globalization, or migration, that pushes people to move from one country to another and they become vulnerable to traffickers,” said Alvarez-Stehle.

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