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'Not Today' film about human trafficking, parallels St. Francis
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A new film opening in theaters on April 12, parallels the transition of St. Francis of Assisi from playboy to servant of God. Called "Not Today", the film is designed to raise awareness of the horrors of human trafficking.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Not Today is a story told against the backdrop of human trafficking in India and the long-entrenched prejudice against the Dalit people, the untouchable caste. The story follows a wealthy young playboy, Caden, as he and his friends travel to India for a fun-filled party-trip. Caden's flight to India is part of his struggles with God, who's presence and power he doubts.
Just like St. Francis, Caden enjoys a privileged lifestyle of wealth and partying, facilitated by his family, and likewise, his efforts at adventure transform him into a servant of God.
Catholics will smile as they see the transformation young Caden goes through, knowing such things have happened before in the history of the Church.
Not Today was produced by Brent Martz, a Yorba Linda, California-based pastor with a strong background in the creative arts. Martz told Catholic Online in an interview that he produced the film to raise awareness about human trafficking and to motivate action.
Martz became involved in the fight against human trafficking when he saw firsthand how the Dalit people of India were treated in that country. His church sponsors several mission schools that cater to the Dalit population and during his first trip to check on their progress Martz was exposed to the reality of modern slavery. Because of their low status in Indian society, the Dalit are among the most trafficked people in the world.
This problem is global, and while the film highlights what happens in India, it makes clear that human trafficking is also a problem in the United States. According to Not Today and the United Nations, there may be upwards of 17,000 people trafficked into the United States each year. There are at least 27 million slaves in the world today, more than has existed at any other time in history.
The issue is of paramount concern to Catholics. Many slaves come from Catholic nations, including the whole of Latin America, Europe, and parts of Africa. That means many victims are Catholics. Pope Francis has also made clear that the fight against human trafficking is an important one for the Church.
According to Martz, everyday people unwittingly contribute to human trafficking and slavery when they buy goods with little awareness of their origins.
"Human trafficking affects each and every one of us" Martz said, "because the things we choose to buy, if we are not careful then our money spent to buy a cell phone, or chocolates, or a piece of clothing, if you're not careful then you're actually contributing to the success of bonded labor around the world. You're contributing to the fact that a child at four or five years old is going to a factory to work 12 hours a day to produce that faux sweater you're wearing, or to pick the cocoa beans that are going to turn into the chocolate that you're going to eat."
Martz continued, "If you knew that by buying this product that you were contributing to the forced labor of a child in subhuman conditions, would you still buy that? So it's really a supply chain issue for those of us who live in the west. For those of us who enjoy being able to go to the grocery store to buy whatever we want whenever we want it, that's a great privilege we have. But we need to be aware of where those things come from. From the bonded labor side of things we're all guilty of supporting human trafficking whether we realize it or not."
To help raise awareness, Martz produced Not Today. In the course of production he worked closely with the Dalit Freedom Network, a U.S. based activist organization dedicated to improving the plight of India's untouchable caste.
His crew made ten trips to India over several years to conduct research and to locate places to film. When Not Today was finally finished, Martz chose to share it first with his Dalit associates who have done so much to put a human face on the Dalit issue. He said they complimented the film saying it was the most realistic depiction of life in the country, portraying India as it really is.
The film leaves one wanting to help, and provides some ideas including a number you can text during the closing credits to visit a website with more information. Martz also added that "Your ticket in is their ticket out," explaining that all profits would be sent to the Dalit mission schools in India. So, when you buys a ticket to see the film, you are also helping to save people from slavery.
Not Today premiers in theaters on April 12, and by simply buying a ticket, you are helping. Catholics will enjoy the unintended but apt comparison to St. Francis-and walk away hoping for a sequel.
Copyright 2021 - Distributed by Catholic Online
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