In just less than a week now I will have my world premier. I have a ton of things going through my mind about the film. There were so many issues we could have focused on. There were issues with immigration laws, sex trade, discrimination, perceived human trafficking, civil rights, and media representation to name a few.
When you are filming for three years you become entangled in all the issues and it becomes hard to decide how to use each of the eighty minutes of the film, what issue should be the most important?
Yesterday I was visited by Maxine Doogan who is involved with the Erotic Service Provider’s Union. She worked on Prop K in California to decriminalize prostitution in San Francisco. (A proposition that ultimately lost) Maxine knew everyone involved in and everything about the history of prostitution in the US, but until my film had never heard about RI’s law. She was visiting Yale for a forum on sex work and took the trip to RI to search out all the legal briefs.
She is hoping to follow the success C.O.Y.O.T.E had in RI and bring the same strategy to other states. I always wondered if this is possible and why hasn’t anyone tried it before?
The one thing I did realize in making the film is that only the women are arrested in most cases. That is the reason why they had the class action suit that changed the law in RI, and not much has changed since 1980. You can see that in the famous cases like Eliot Spitzer. Spitzer got off and the madame got six months.
If there is one thing I would like to see (and if you told me that I would be saying this when I started this film I would have thought you were crazy) I would love for some lawyer and/or sex worker to see the film and start a class action suit in their state. How can you create or continue a law that is known to be applied unequally?
I think that is what people think this film is all about. SEX. Sex or sex work, prostitution, human trafficking, all of these loaded words. It is sad because the film is so much more.
I am a telephone tech. Like almost every film maker, I have a “real” job. One that pays the bills. There is a guy who I work with who is married to a woman who is going for her green card. She came to this country when she was three. Unfortunately when she was a child her parents never bothered to finish whatever paperwork they needed to do for her citizenship. She is twenty five now, and married to this guy I work with. She has been in the long drawn out process to become a citizen for years now.
On Friday her mother died. Because her mother is going to be buried in Senegal, and she hasn’t finished getting her full residency, she isn’t allowed to go to the funeral. My heart goes out to her.
This situation also came up in my film. “Heather” married her husband “Chris” on 9-11. (It seemed odd to me that someone would be married on a Tuesday, but they were.) The entire time I was filming I was mostly concerned with “Heather’s” reaction with the prostitution laws. In reality she was mostly interested with her immigration case. In every interview all she wanted to talk about is how she wanted to go home to Korea to see her mom. She needed to relax, replenish and then come back to the US to finish her immigration hearings.
I was talking to my college roommate about “Heather’s” immigration case. She thought it was odd that “Heather” was in hearings for seven years, when she works with a a woman who was unmarried and only had one hearing and became a citizen. I asked her where that woman was from and she said England. It makes me think that if you are from a “white” country and go try to immigrate they welcome you with open arms.