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Austin ​: Wednesday, September 27th 2017

2016/ India, Norway/ English, Hindi, Bengali/ 84 Min

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​The film is the story of struggle for justice of Cecilia Hasda, a tribal woman from West Bengal-India, whose daughter is trafficked and found dead in New Delhi. In a country where thousands of tribal children get trafficked every year to cities and many never found, Cecilia decides to fight for justice for her daughter with the help of her employers Pankaj and Sunaina. As the trio battle corruption at all levels, they find themselves navigating a complex network of cops, traffickers, judges, lawyers,
villagers and family members. When Cecilia’s husband is kidnapped and her two sons are forced to leave the village, Cecilia begins to lose all hope. Disappointed with the whole judicial system, Cecilia seriously begins to consider out of court settlement. With the pressure from traffickers mounting,

Cecilia eventually ends up taking the money from traffickers and withdraws the case from the court. She goes back to her village hoping to start a new life. But instead, she takes to alcohol and 6 months later succumbs to liver failure.

Wednesday, September 27th 2017
7:00 - 8:30pm
AFS Cinema
6406 N IH-35, Austin, TX
The film screening will be followed by a Q&A  and a member mixer.
CURRENT Indie Meme Members get a $2 DISCOUNT per ticket. Check your email for a member discount code. (non-members PLEASE purchase the regular price tickets)

Austin Documentary Fan Members (ADF) & Austin Film Society Members (AFS) get 10% off with the discount codes available to them through their organizations.
Students get a 10% discount


A one time financial consultant Pankaj left his lucrative job to pursue his passion for films when he was 24
. He worked as a television producer for 6
years before founding his own production company in 2009. His work has been supported by organisations like IDFA Bertha Fund, Norwegian Film Institute (SORFOND), Sundance Documentary Fund, BritDoc and Indian
Films Division.
Pankaj joined one of India's biggest media groups – NDTV in 2002 and was
part of the core team that launched India's first lifestyle channel, NDTV Good
Times. He later worked as a senior producer with India’s leading news channels and produced shows from Afghanistan, Iraq, Iceland and Burma. As a television producer, the content produced by him has won various media awards. The subjects have ranged from Global Warming’s impact on Arctic Ice to the Sri Lankan conflict.
Pankaj’s mid-length documentary, “Still Standing” on his quadriple gic father
won the best debut film of a director from the Indian government and got the
award of excellence from the Indian Documentary Producer’s Association.
His first feature length film, “Cecilia” premiered at IDFA 2015. He is also the
Producer/EP of independent Bollywood film, “Shuttlecock Boys”, which
released in the Indian screens in 2012 and featured in almost all the top
Indian critics’ year -end lists.

Pankaj has also worked as a consultant on Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan ’s
popular show on social issues, Satyameva Jayate besides directing several social and corporate films for clients like United Nations, TED and Government of India.

​As far as I can remember I have always seen domestic helps in my house. When me and my sister were growing up, both my parents were working. So in order to take care of the house and their kids, they used to hire full time nannies. There were placement agencies that had come up in every neighbourhood. For anyone needing a domestic help at their house, all one needed to do was pay a small commission and they would be provided with a person according to their needs. It was one such agency that my parents relied on as well. A lot of these agencies only provided young girls and boys. No one knew from where and how they procured them, and no one really cared to ask. As long as they were getting “house-keepers” , it didn’t really matter. I clearly remember one occasion, when we ended up hiring a young girl in our house as well. It was a very common sight and in fact still is, to see young kids taking care of the house hold chores in cities like Delhi.

My ignorance levels persisted even when I joined the news industry. I started
coming across horror stories of trafficking from India’s remote tribal parts. But
my knowledge was still mostly limited to sex trafficking. It was only much later
when I started making this film that I realized that most of these so called “domestic helps” came from India's neglected tribal parts where no
development had happened even after decades of independence and
democratic freedom. There was immense poverty and so it was very easy for
traffickers to make the gullible parents sell their kids for a very small sum of

This film is not just Cecilia's story. It is a story of every poor tribal who is being
sold glitzy city dreams and being lured miles away from their land. It is also a
story of every middle class family who has been indirectly contributing to
trafficking by hiring these trafficked girls and children. If I could have been so
ignorant, then I am sure there are plenty others like me.

Films cannot bring about a change overnight. But I hope that with this film I can make more Indians aware and educated about the perils of labour trafficking.


Directed and Produced by
Pankaj Johar

Executive Producer
Iikka Vehkalahti

Arne Dahr
Sunaina Kapoor
Finn McAlinden


James Valiakulathil

Pankaj Johar

Sound Design
Susmit Bob Nath
Niraj Gera  ​

Additional Photography
Hemant Gaba
Vidhi Sharma
Hirakjyoti Das
Nirmit Shahi
Deepak Jain

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