June 26, 2014 marked UNICEF Ambassador Lucy Liu’s directorial debut, with her short film "Meena" premiering to a captivated audience in New York. Based on a chapter from Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s bestselling book “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide,” the film deals with child sex trafficking in India and was written and co-directed by brother/sister duo Colin Gray and Megan Raney Aarons, better known as The Sibs.
Examiner.com was on the red carpet and spoke with Lucy about what attracted her to the project. She told us exclusively, It's funny because I wasn't as interested in directing but just more interested for it to be out there and have it in the public. To me, it was important to make the issue very clear because as I've said before, ten years ago, people didn't even know about trafficking; people did not know what it meant. I had produced two other movies before, documentary shorts, just about the issues of children involved and this one was an opportunity to show something from a very creative standpoint, but also based on a true story."
We also spoke exclusively with Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl Wu Dunn who are the authors.
How does it feel for a part of your book to come alive in this film?
Oh, it feels wonderful! We were so excited that for so many years people have really supported the book and the content of the book and it's really gratifying to see one of the most important stories of the book, about Meena and her daughter, really come under a broader spotlight, so we're really happy that Lucy's bringing this out we fully support her and just really excited.
Lucy will give Meena's incredible story a new audience, which will be really exciting for us and Meena herself.
What other parts of your book do you think is important for people to know about?
Well they had a documentary that aired on PBS already that did cover some of the stories, but didn't include Meena so we're really excited that this story was able to include Meena. Lucy's done a remarkable job, really bringing out some of the most intractable issues around trafficking and forced prostitution to the floor. It's really a tough subject, really tough. And for her to take this on, we're just so excited by this.
After the screening, guests were treated to a lively panel discussion moderated by Deepak Chopra and comprised of Liu, UNICEF’s Chief of Child Protection Susan Bissell and authors Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. A special appearance was made by Ruchira Gupta, Founder and President of Apne Aap Women Worldwide, who was influential in Meena’s efforts to rescue her daughter Naina.
Tristen Yang contributed reporting.