TEAM + CREW
DIRECTOR + PRODUCER
JACQUELINE ROMANO, A PARSONS ALUMNUS, IS A DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER BASED IN NEW YORK CITY AND OWNER OF BLINDFOLD, a socially conscious online publication. Romano feels it is her personal vocation to use her creative skills to raise awareness for people and organizations who are making positive change, both locally and globally. In 2013, Blindfold published an article on a young activist named Alezandra Russell. The publication highlighted her journey in founding her non-profit organization Urban Light, as part of her fight to empower at-risk boys in Thailand to live a life outside of sex trafficking and exploitation. Jacqueline was so impressed by her fearlessness and passion that she felt called to do her part in sharing Alezandra’s story even further. In 2015, Jacqueline raised funds to travel to Chiang Mai, Thailand, with co-creative Tabatha Mudra to shoot a video campaign for Urban Light. While there, she realized there was a much larger story to be told within the sex tourism industry of Thailand. So, what started as a short-form documentary highlighting the work that Alezandra and Urban Light are doing, has turned into years of research and development for a feature-length documentary film. The premise has expanded to not only telling the stories of at-risk young males who are exploited, abused, and trafficked within the sex tourism industry of Thailand, but also calls out the social violence that perpetuates this ongoing issue and follows the activists who are fighting to give these boys the justice they desperately need. After years of powering through the research and development stage, Jacqueline came to realize that in order to have the strength to continue on with this film, she had to face her own history with sexual violence and abuse. While Jacqueline has worked on many award-winning short-form documentary films, this will be her first feature-length documentary film. Like the boys, she felt silenced by those who violated her, and by the people whom she reported the violations to. Knowing that Jacqueline can help this film touch a wider audience of people by being somewhat open about her own experiences, and the healing work that has transpired as a result of taking this project on, gives her an extra push. She hopes that by telling the stories of these boys’ experiences, and now her own, anyone watching will find strength and an opportunity for healing.
WHILE VISITING THAILAND IN 2009, ALEZANDRA RUSSELL WITNESS FIRSTHAND THE HORRORS OF TRAFFICKING, exploitation and violence against an overlooked population—Boys. Just three months after that initial trip to Thailand, Alezandra founded URBAN LIGHT. Alezandra pawned her engagement and wedding rings in order to start the organization, which provides various services and emergency support to boys who are victims of exploitation and commercial sexual exploitation in Thailand. Very much an overlooked and neglected population, Alezandra is committed to empowering this at-risk population of boys by providing them with realistic opportunities, services and programs for a life beyond the bars of the red light district. Alezandra stands undeterred in her commitment to rehabilitating and restoring the young lives of these boys who have been deemed replaceable and disposable by their families and society alike. During 2013, URBAN LIGHT helped to empower the lives of more than 300 at-risk boys in Chiang Mai, Thailand. URBAN LIGHT remains one of the only organizations working on behalf of boys who are overlooked, forgotten, and ignored in the global discussion of trafficking and exploitation. She is hopeful that pushing the distribution of this documentary to a global audience will take her fight to improve the lives of the boys she works with and promote the abolishment of sex tourism in Thailand.