SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A local organization is bringing the topic of human trafficking to the big screen in Springfield.
The documentary called “The Long Night” was shot in Seattle, but Tim Matsui, the journalist behind it, says the problem is not unique to that city. And Stand Against Trafficking, a Springfield-based coalition, believes the stories like those in this film are also very real in the Ozarks.
Stand believes starting the conversation is the first step to stopping the problem.
“The big thing is the conversation,” said Gene Garcia, public relations chair of Stand.
Journalist Tim Matsui followed along the lives of some involved in the sex trade, the victims, officers, and investigators.
In the film, victims talk about their journey. One girl, Natalie, (her real name is not used in the documentary), says she became involved when she was only 15, and that she believed she was in love with a 32-year-old man who was also her pimp.
An officer shares a story of when a girl asked him to out of that lifestyle. One that’s hard to break out of; homelessness and addiction can be involved and most victims have no support system.
“People who lack social support and family support are very vulnerable,” said Garcia.
Garcia says although not a large city, trafficking does exist in Springfield.
“It’s centrally located in a central area between lots of major towns,” he said.
Stand does outreach with bus and taxi drivers, and hotels, as well as linking victims to resources to get out. They hope these real stories of real people like Natalie who chose to share her story.
“And the reason she chose to to do this is because she said ‘if this helps one girl, that’s enough for me, that’s why I’m going to do this’,” said Matsui.
Will help the local community join in their efforts.
“It’s about learning to recognize the signs and just report it,” said Garcia. “Much like child abuse and neglect situation, if you see something that is unusual and just doesn’t feel right.”
The Long Night will be screened at the Moxie on Jan. 22.