* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Manuel de Jesus Diaz Polo, director of the short film "Mi Muneca" ("My doll") looking at the sexual exploitation of children in Colombia, has been interviewed by Terre des hommes (Tdh). Through this poignant short film, the director reminds us that in Colombia, 35,000 boys and girls are victims of sexual exploitation.
- What message did you want to convey with this film?
The short film aims to raise awareness about the sexual abuse and exploitation of young children and adolescents. This is a situation that occurs frequently in Colombia and yet very few people speak up against it.
- Does the film represent the reality for hundreds of young girls in Colombia?
This fictional film tells a story based on true accounts collected by Tdh from young children and adolescents who are sexually exploited. We took common elements from all the victims’ testimonies to create a story that could represent the situation of many children in Colombia. In the majority of cases, the victims were young girls, the exploiters were members of their family or people close to the family, and the notion of power was everywhere. The theme of the game and manipulation as a strategy leading to abusing and exploiting the victims appears frequently, which is why we illustrated it in the film.
- What role does the mother have in the film? In what way does she feel guilty?
The mother is totally aware; she is an accomplice but she does not agree. This is a mother who loves her child and who cannot stand to witness what is being done to her. This is why she always tries to leave the house in order to feel like she is not part of what is happening.
- Is she involved in the exploitation? Why does she let it happen?
The story is told from the mother's point of view, who does not agree with what is happening, but who is an accomplice by allowing it to. The mother is under the influence of the exploiter who forces her to submit, either by physical force or through threats.
- The film's soundtrack highlights the emotions that the mother is experiencing, as well as what the viewer is feeling. What were you trying to achieve through this approach?
The soundtrack to “Mi Muñeca”(My doll) is essential. From beginning to end it attempts to highlight the emotional intensity of each scene. Since there is very little dialogue in “Mi Muñeca”, the soundtrack is an integral part of the story.
- The little Barbie that the mother finds on the ground, neglected, is a metaphor for her daughter. Does she have a realisation at that moment?
The mother finds the doll in a moment when she feels she cannot stand the situation any longer. The abandoned doll revives the mother's protective instinct towards her daughter. The doll is a strong bond between the mother and the daughter, as it is the girl's favourite toy.
- The final scene shows a mother who is hesitating, terrified, but decisive about going to get her daughter. Can we interpret that as a glimmer of hope in the current situation?
The short film ends with the mother reaching a realisation and deciding to end the abuse and exploitation of her daughter. However, the balance of power between the mother and the man is not resolved, the man may continue to subjugate the mother and daughter. The end of the film, therefore, invites the viewer to reflect on the issue: should people continue to keep quiet about such cases of exploitation or should they raise their voices and not allow, under any circumstances, the abuse and exploitation of young children and adolescents?
- Congratulations on having your film selected for the 1st Human Rights Film Festival in Venezuela. Do you think that it can help change people's attitudes? Denouncing the problem and creating awareness?
Thank you very much! Thank you also to the whole team that worked on it. I am proud that my film was presented at numerous festivals in Colombia and France and that it was selected for the 1st International Human Rights Film Festival in Venezuela.
The existence of this kind of festival is important because these are places that engender reflection and create awareness and allow the denunciation of all types of human rights violations.