College of Arts & Media
CAM faculty documentary reveals world of sex trafficking
David Liban is shining a light on the dark world of sex trafficking through his documentary, “Live Through This: Survivors of Sex Trafficking.” The 27-minute documentary, which will debut on Rocky Mountain PBS at 10 p.m. on Dec. 15, features stories from Denver women who found themselves drawn into lives of abuse and prostitution.
“Most people think prostitutes have chosen this career, where 99 percent of them have been coerced in one way or another,” said Liban, associate professor and chair of the Department of Theatre, Film, and Video Production. “There are very few that have made the decision that this is what I want to do. Who would choose that? I want people seeing this to be sensitive to those who are exploited.”
Liban decided to make the documentary after signing on with the Denver District Attorney’s office to make a shorter piece for the John School, a program aimed at rehabilitating first-time offenders caught purchasing sex. Liban knew that producing a longer documentary could reach a greater audience, dispelling misperceptions on sex trafficking while giving the exploited a chance to share their stories.
“I used to love the film ‘Risky Business’—I thought it was a great movie,” Liban said. “But now that I have worked on this project, films like that and ‘Pretty Woman’ are insulting and perpetuate the problem through the way prostitution is portrayed.”
For Liban, who has previously won an Emmy for “Mortal Lessons,” a documentary on end-of-life issues, projects like these aren’t about prestige or making money, but rather the chance to use his talents to raise awareness of greater issues.
“One of the missions of the College of Arts and Media is to create art of consequence,” Liban said. “That is largely happenstance to what I do as well. I don’t make films to make money. As an artist I might be able to help someone along the way, and that is my goal.”
After the documentary airs on Rocky Mountain PBS, Liban plans to make it available on iTunes and the National Educational Telecommunications Association.