Gillian's Open Road

GILLIAN CALDWELL

Director
Human Rights Program Witness

“If I had made a choice, it was to try to change the world…I think you have a responsibility to try to ensure that there is actually freedom.”

INTERESTS:

Film Non-Profit Organizations

THEMES DISCUSSED:

Conflict Dedication Exploration Goals Inspiration Passion Risk Values Choices Opportunity

TAGS:

art gallery, changing the world, commitment, documentary, freedom, high 8 cameras, honesty, human trafficking, impact, intent, paintings, responsibility, roadmapped to do something, Russian mafia, slavery, social justice, video cameras, women's issues

BIOGRAPHY:

With the human rights program, Witness, Gillian Caldwell challenges perpetrators of social injustice, refusing to be just a bystander. It all started in 1989, when Gillian bought a high-quality video camera and said to herself, "one day I'm going to make a documentary that makes a difference." That day came when a distant friend, investigating the trade in tiger pelts in Russia, was offered a woman for purchase. Disturbed, he contacted Gillian, knowing her interest with human and women's rights. Gillian was intrigued and immediately began researching the problem. The issue concerned Gillian so much that she quit her job within two weeks, determined to make a difference in Russia. Gillian then created a fake escort/ modeling company and posed as a foreign buyer interested in purchasing women from the mafia. Although extremely dangerous, Gillian was determined to document her experiences in Russia with the intention of broadcasting it. And she did make a difference. After three years of documentation, the footage was aired. Only days after being broadcast, the Ukraine quickly passed a bill outlawing slavery. After her work in Russia, Gillian drafted the congressional resolution for the United States Congress that laid down the groundwork for the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.

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