UTSA documentary featured in Council on Social Work Education Film Festival

film still

Shot from documentary "Behind Closed Doors: Voices from the Inside"

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(June 21, 2013) -- "Behind Closed Doors: Voices from the Inside," a documentary film created in 2011 by social work graduate students in the UTSA College of Public Policy, has been chosen by the Council on Social Work Education as one of nine official selections in its 2013 Virtual Film Festival.

Through Sept. 6, social work educators nationwide can view the film with their students as an educational resource.

"The main relevance of this documentary for social work instructors is that it provides a transformational learning experience that simply cannot be found in a classroom," said Robert Ambrosino, senior lecturer in the Department of Social Work. "The students are afforded the opportunity to gain knowledge about policy advocacy through a compelling real-life experience."

Each year, tens of thousands of underage girls in the United States are impacted in some way by the horrible reality of domestic minor sex trafficking. In late 2011, graduate students enrolled in Ambrosino' s advanced policy class decided to cast a light on what they perceived to be a too often ignored social issue.

"My advanced policy class chose to highlight the domestic trafficking of minors for their assignment because of how closely it is connected to our community," said Ambrosino. "Interstate 10, which crosses Texas, is a major conduit for human trafficking and runs right through San Antonio."

The UTSA students created a documentary to share compelling and often horrific personal stories of human trafficking victims while dispelling common myths about the subject. Over the course of 10 weeks, the students, with help from the community, took turns filming, producing and editing what ultimately became "Behind Closed Doors: Voices from the Inside," which they premiered at UTSA in August 2011.

"It was extremely difficult to hear the stories of teenage girls, some of whom have been trafficked since they were as young as eight years old, as well as those of adult survivors who have borne long-lasting emotional scars as a result of being trafficked," he said. "But, our students felt it necessary to dispel myths about domestic minor sex trafficking among members of the general community and build upon what was being talked about in the state senate at the time."

To view and discuss the nine films, participants should sign into or register for Google+, go to "Communities," search for "CSWE Film Festivals," click the film festival logo and click "Ask to Join."

Community members will be able to not only view and discuss "Behind Closed Doors: Voices from the Inside" but also complete rating sheets online. The highest rated student film, as determined by the audience rating sheets, will receive the Virtual Ovation Award and a $500 prize.

>> Watch a trailer for "Behind Closed Doors: Voices from the Inside."

>> View a list of the 2013 CSWE Virtual Film Festival official selections.