Marc Erlbaum is a filmmaker who knows the power of film to move people, create dialogue and to evoke emotion; so he created a platform where people could do more than just watch movies. Mr. Erlbaum’s platform, eflixir.com, will help people DO something immediately after watching the movie. The platform curates thousands of uplifting Hollywood films, donates to charity every time a film is watched, and links every movie to a handful of nonprofits so viewers can immediately act after they’ve watched and been inspired.
Eflixir recently launched the screening series in NY where they partner with different nonprofits and screen films that are related to their cause followed by a panel discussion on the issue.
I was invited to an Eflixir screening last week of VERY YOUNG GIRLS, a documentary about sexual trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of young girls in NYC. Yes, you read that right. In New York City. We think of sexual exploitation happening abroad but the truth is that it is happening in our own backyards… there are girls as young as 11 (¡!!!!! WHAT THE EFF?) who are taken advantage of and exploited. The documentary follows the founder of GEMS, Girls Educational and Mentoring Services, Rachel Lloyd and goes into the hardships and lives of some of the girls that GEMS serves. This documentary certainly leaves the audience moved. I’m pretty sure there was not a dry eye in the room during the film. You ask yourself “How can this be happening?” “How can men exploit women like this?” “How can johns get away with this?” , “Our system is really effed up.” And “What can I do??” Mr. Ehrlbaum is certainly right—films have a way of pulling our heart strings.
The sold-out screening was held in an intimate setting at District CoWork in the heart of Manhattan. After the documentary there was a panel discussion with two staff members of GEMS who discussed the misconceptions that the general public has about young women commonly referred to as “teen prostitutes.” For example, that these girls make decisions about wanting to be “in the game” and voluntarily go with pimps and make decisions to be on the streets. (But what 12 year old wants to be on the street and exploited?) There is a lot more involved—and men prey on girls. Another question people have “Why don’t these girls just pick up and go?” (leave their pimps). It’s not as easy as it sounds!
And the biggest misconception: “It doesn’t happen here”… The movie showed that it DOES happen in our country—it happens all New York City—one of the tracks mentioned was the train station next to where I grew up.
GEMS is the only organization in New York State that works with young women that have been sexually exploited. They provide housing and many other services for young women ages 12-24. Last week’s screening by Eflixir raised $750 for GEMS and also created awareness on such a horrific topic.
If you’re wondering if Eflixir is working, I can tell you that I left the screening with Rachel Lloyd’s memoir “Girls Like Us” (which I’m devouring on my kindle), I bought the Rachel Roy “Girls are not for sale” t-shirt (100 percent of proceeds go to the organization), I bought an adorable onesie to gift to an amazing little girl, I visited the GEMS website (where I found the cool graphic above!), I inquired about what they needed for their Crisis Closet (toiletries, baby wipes, diapers, new clothes, in case you are wondering!) and I will be collecting toiletries at our local park day in October. So if you ask me if this concept of films helping people take action works, I’d say Mr. Erlbaum is definitely on to something.
For more information on Eflixir, head to their site www.eflixir.com
For more information on GEMS visit www. gems-girls.org
Photo credit: graph above: GEMS