(San Francisco, CA) — A Path Appears, from the creative team behind the groundbreaking series Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, follows author/reporters Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn and celebrity activists Malin Akerman, Mia Farrow, Ronan Farrow, Jennifer Garner, Regina Hall, Ashley Judd, Blake Lively, Eva Longoria, and Alfre Woodard to Colombia, Haiti, Kenya, and throughout the United States as they explore the roots of gender inequality, the devastating impact of poverty and the ripple effects that follow — including sex trafficking, teen pregnancy, gender-based violence, and child slavery. In their travels, they meet with inspiring activists who are creating effective solutions to gender-based oppression, transforming lives and providing a roadmap for sustainable future change.
“These are stories of a new generation of leaders that offer new inspiration to bring about change,” says WuDunn. “We want people to understand that there are solutions. There are successes.”
Based on the most recent book by Kristof and WuDunn entitled A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity, the three-part series premieres as a special presentation of Independent Lens on three consecutive Monday nights, January 26, February 2, and February 9, 2015, at 10:00pm (check local listings) on PBS.
Produced by Show of Force in association with ITVS, A Path Appears is executive produced by Maro Chermayeff, Jeff Dupre, Jamie Gordon, and Mira Chang, directed by Chermayeff and is part of the Women and Girls Lead initiative. Joshua Bennett is the series producer. Major funding for A Path Appears has been provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), ITVS, the Ikea Foundation, Intel, the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the NoVo Foundation, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, Hilton Worldwide, the Nduna Foundation, the Artemis Rising Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Deerbrook Charitable Trust, Ina Brown Bond, Nina De Clercq, Embrey Family Foundation, the Akasha Project, and Revlon.
“Hope is like a path in the countryside. Originally, there is nothing – but as people walk this way again and again, a path appears.” — Lu Xun, Chinese essayist, 1921
Episode One - Monday, January 26, 10:00-11:30pm ET
The Department of Justice estimates that there are 300,000 children at risk of being trafficked into sexual slavery in the U.S. A Path Appears introduces individual survivors behind these shocking numbers, and illuminates the widespread existence of a crime happening in our own backyards.
In this episode, Ashley Judd and Nicholas Kristof meet Shana Goodwin, whose earliest memories are of being sexually abused by her grandfather. Shana guides them through the streets of Nashville where she was first sold to a pimp by her mother at the age of 12. Through Shana, we meet a pimp waiting on three of his girls to return with “$40, no less,” women actively in the life, and other women like Shana who, through the intervention of the widely-acclaimed Magdalene program, have managed to leave prostitution behind and find a new life.
In Boston, Kristof is joined by Blake Lively as they visit the nationally recognized anti-trafficking organization My Life My Choice. One of the founders of the organization, Audrey Morrissey, is a survivor of forced prostitution and drug addiction. After almost 20 years on the street, she now mentors young victims and trains future generations of survivors to become mentors themselves. Audrey introduces Kristof and Lively to Maria, a mother who fears her missing daughter has fallen prey to a trafficker. The episode captures the devastating moment when Maria sees her 15-year-old daughter being sold online as well as the relief that follows from her daughter’s successful recovery. They also meet young trafficking survivor Savannah, who was stalked by an older man on a “sugar-daddy” website and then sold and held in sexual bondage. Months into her recovery, she is rebuilding her relationship with her mother, whose own history sheds light on the generational nature of trauma and exploitation.
In Chicago, Kristof and Malin Akerman visit Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart as his department coordinates the annual nationwide Day of Johns Arrest, going behind the scenes on sting operations to crack down on the buyers of sex. Approximately 15 percent of American men regularly purchase sex, but few are ever penalized. By focusing on the demand side of the multi-billion dollar trafficking industry — a criminal enterprise on par with guns and second only to drugs — Sheriff Dart and his team are leading the country in reshaping law enforcement’s response to prostitution and trafficking. They are also re-framing a dialogue in which those in prostitution have been penalized and blamed rather than treated as victims.
The episode concludes with a return to Nashville to revisit the Magdalene program’s social business, Thistle Farms, which provides survivors with the full range of services necessary to their healing as well as essential job skills. Led by Reverend Becca Stevens, the program proves that while the reality is horrifying and the long-term impact on victims can be devastating, there are solutions.
Episode Two - Monday, February 2, 10:00-11:30pm ET
With Nicholas Kristof, Jennifer Garner returns to her native West Virginia to visit families enrolled in Save the Children’s Early Steps program, which introduces books and early learning to children living in poverty, and provides social and emotional support for the mothers. One child benefiting from the program is Johnny Weethee, who was just accepted into pre-K with the help of program coordinator Tonya Bonecutter. Another family in Tonya’s care is that of Lyn Sargent, who lives in a trailer with her husband, two children, and eight others. An example of how hard it can be to break the cycle of poverty, sexual and drug abuse, Lyn is now enrolled in school full-time, hoping to provide a better future for her children.
The episode next heads to Haiti, which, even before the devastating 2012 earthquake, was the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Billions of dollars in well-intentioned aid have gone into the country, but demonstrable results have been few and far between. Alfre Woodard joins Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn to meet Rea Dol, founder and leader of SOPUDEP (Society of Providence United for the Economic Development of Pétion-Ville). As a leader in the community, Rea understands that Haiti must rebuild from within, with the efforts and empowerment of the Haitian people. SOPUDEP offers a variety of economic, social, and health services but its central program is its free school, which is unusual in Haiti. Children whose families cannot afford to care for them commonly live with a host family as their domestic servant, but many do not receive the education they were promised or adequate food and shelter. Physical and sexual abuse is common. Rea has succeeded in convincing many families to allow their domestic servants to attend her school.
Through Rea, Kristof and Woodard meet one such girl, Marilaine, who desperately wants to leave the home where she is beaten and mistreated. Rea enlists the aid of other local activists and the Haitian police to orchestrate a rescue. But while Marilaine’s escape removes her from immediate danger, her options are limited because her mother has 12 children, no food, no transportation, and there is no school for miles. It is the education that Marilaine receives at the SOPUDEP school that provides the most viable, long-term opportunity for her and her classmates to reach their full potential and begin to rebuild their nation. But there is no easy fix.
In Cartagena, Colombia, Kristof, WuDunn and Eva Longoria meet Catalina Escobar, founder and director of the Juan Felipe Gomez Escobar Foundation (“Juanfe”). Following the tragic death of her young son, Catalina, a successful businesswoman, decided to devote her life to the pregnant teens and young mothers in the slums. Juanfe’s model is a “360 degree intervention” that includes health care, intensive therapy, education, family planning, vocational training, an infant center, and a medical clinic that has served more than 84,000 low-income residents in the community.
Catalina believes that the cycle must be broken early for young mothers and their babies to have a chance. The pregnant girls who enroll in Juanfe, some as young as 12, have already dropped out of school and have virtually no other opportunities. Demalis, who at 15 was prostituted and became pregnant, is a new applicant. She has returned to Cartagena and hopes that Juanfe will offer a new chance for herself and her baby. The success rate of the girls who graduate Juanfe’s two-year program is high but Catalina does not have room for everyone.
Kristof questions whether enough girls are reached in this kind of intervention. Though it is clearly changing the lives of many, is there more that can be done? Would prevention and aggressive birth control campaigns serve as better models? These and other questions of viability, scalability, and replicability are addressed as Kristof and WuDunn debate which models for change can make the largest global impact.
Episode Three - February 9, 10:00-11:30pm ET
In the United States, domestic violence claims more than three lives a day on average; one in every four women will experience it during their lifetime. Domestic violence creates a climate of distress and terror, impedes the upbringing of children, and yet is still a taboo that is not adequately addressed. In this episode, Nicholas Kristof and Regina Hall visit Atlanta to explore the work of two organizations that combat domestic violence. At the Women’s Resource Center, a shelter, aid, and advocacy organization for battered women, they meet Ayonna Johnson, a legal advocate who gives them a first-hand look at how the legal system often works against abused women. Brave survivors share their experiences about the often-difficult reality of leaving a domestic abuser behind. At Men Stopping Violence, educator Sulaiman Nuriddin works directly with men who have abused their partners to help them change their behavior, and with young boys and the broader public about the roots and cyclical consequences of violence against women. Through these journeys, A Path Appears offers a vital perspective on the work of addressing both the immediate needs of the survivors and the larger mission at hand — creating a cultural shift that will end domestic violence.
In Kenya, actress/activist Mia Farrow and journalist Ronan Farrow join Kristof as they visit Shining Hope, an organization working for change in Kibera, one of the worst slums in the country — and the world. Home to over a million people, Kibera has no power, running water or public schools, and 15% of young girls have been raped or sexually abused before preschool age.
Shining Hope is run by the charismatic young activist Kennedy Odede and his American wife, Jessica Posner Odede. Kennedy and Jessica fell in love when she came as a volunteer and together they have created a program that offers a holistic approach to Kibera’s many problems, offering health services, aid with navigating the frustrating legal system, and opening the Kibera School for Girls, which aims to provide the area’s most at-risk young girls with a path out of poverty and abuse.
They meet Ida, a four-year-old girl who has been raped — by a 12-year-old boy. They also encounter a young girl named Flavian who is unable to walk and who has been raped repeatedly over many years by her grandfather, and join the Shining Hope team as they try to get her both medical attention and justice in the courts. While the problems that plague Kibera may seem insurmountable, Shining Hope is making a difference. With Kennedy’s infectious optimism and strong leadership and Jessica’s organizational skills, they are reaching more and more of Kibera’s residents and chipping away at the hopelessness that has for so long afflicted the region.
About the Team
Nicholas Kristof, a columnist for The New York Times since November 2001, is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner who writes op-ed columns that appear twice a week. In 1990, Kristof and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, previously a Times journalist, won a Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of China’s Tiananmen Square movement. Kristof won a second Pulitzer in 2006 for what the judges called “his graphic, deeply reported columns that, at personal risk, focused attention on genocide in Darfur.” Kristof and WuDunn are authors of four best-selling books: China Wakes: The Struggle for the Soul of a Rising Power in 1994; Thunder from the East: Portrait of a Rising Asia in 2000; Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide in 2009; and A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity in 2014.
Sheryl WuDunn, the first Asian American reporter to win a Pulitzer Prize, is a business executive, lecturer, and best-selling author. Currently, she is a senior managing director with Mid-Market Securities, an investment banking boutique, helping growth companies, including those operating in the emerging markets. She also worked at The New York Times as an executive and journalist: in management roles in both the Strategic Planning and Circulation Sales departments at The Times; as editor for international markets, energy and industry; as The Times’ first anchor of an evening news headline program for a digital cable TV channel, the Discovery-Times; and as a foreign correspondent for The Times in Tokyo and Beijing, where she wrote about economic, financial, political, and social issues. Kristof and WuDunn are authors of four best-selling books: China Wakes: The Struggle for the Soul of a Rising Power in 1994; Thunder from the East: Portrait of a Rising Asia in 2000; Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide in 2009; and A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity in 2014.
Show of Force was founded in 2006 by veteran television producers Maro Chermayeff and Jeff Dupre and is known for creating some of the last decade’s most ambitious and creative programs, including feature documentaries, event television series and innovative transmedia projects. Included in its projects to date is the groundbreaking Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, a multi-platform project based on the bestselling book by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn; the Peabody and Emmy Award-winning Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present (HBO); Kehinde Wiley: An Economy of Grace (PBS), winner of the 2014 Jury Prize for Best Documentary Short at SXSW and Oscar nominee short-lister; the six-hour series Circus (PBS); and the Emmy Award-Winning ten-hour series Carrier (PBS). Representation: WME. More: www.showofforce.com.
Maro Chermayeff (Executive Producer/Director) is an award-winning filmmaker, producer, director, author, and former television executive at A&E. She is Founder and Chair of the MFA program in Social Documentary at the School of Visual Arts in New York City and partner in the production company Show of Force. Some of her extensive credits include: the award-winning four-hour PBS documentary series Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide (PBS, 2012); the six-hour series Circus (PBS, 2010); the Emmy Award-winning 10-hour series Carrier (PBS/Nat Geo International, 2008); Emmy and Peabody Award winner Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present (HBO, 2012 and SXSW and Academy Award short list); the documentary short Kehinde Wiley: An Economy of Grace (PBS, 2014); Mann v. Ford (HBO, 2011); Parasomnia (France 2, 2010); the multi-part series Eminent Domains (Vanity Fair online); the six-hour series Frontier House (PBS, 2002); American Masters: Juilliard (PBS, 2003); The Kindness of Strangers (HBO,1999); Role Reversal (A&E 2002); Trauma, Life in the ER (TLC, 2001) and over 15 specials for Charlie Rose. Represented by WME, Chermayeff is an Executive Producer of Half the Sky Movement's Facebook Game and mobile games with Games for Change.
Jeff Dupre (Executive Producer) has been producing and directing documentary films for over 15 years. Together with Show of Force partner Maro Chermayeff, Dupre was a director, creator, and executive producer of Circus, a six-part documentary series that premiered on PBS. He conceived, produced, and co-directed Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present and produced Carrier and Michael Cantor’s Broadway: The American Musical. Dupre’s directorial debut, Out of the Past, won the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival, among other awards. Most recently, he was an executive producer of Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide and has numerous films and television series in production and development.
Jamie Gordon (Executive Producer) co-founded Fugitive Films in 2005 after running the development department of GreeneStreet Films in New York City for six years as well as working on multiple award-winning Hollywood feature films. Most recently, Gordon executive produced Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. Her company produced Coach, starring Hugh Dancy, and the comedy Wedding Daze, starring Jason Biggs and Isla Fisher. Among other projects, she is developing a film based on the National Book Award finalist River Town by Peter Hessler and a film adaptation of Brooke Berman’s off-Broadway hit Smashing. Previously, Gordon produced Swimfan, Pinero, and Chicago Cab.
Mira Chang (Co-Executive Producer) is a veteran producer, director and former cinematographer whose work in documentary film and television can be seen in projects such as the Emmy award nominated film Left of the Dial (2005); the Academy Award nominated film Jesus Camp (2007); South by Southwest Audience Award winner Motherland (2006); and several Emmy Award-winning pieces for ABC News. Most recently she was the series producer for Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. She is currently heading development at Show of Force.
Joshua Bennett (Series Producer) has over ten years of experience producing film and television and has produced shoots in over 35 countries and on all seven continents. He has produced programming for PBS, HBO, MTV, Discovery, A&E, and the Sundance Channel, as well as music videos, commercials, independent shorts, experimental works, and corporate, new media, and viral media campaigns. Joshua teaches documentary producing in the MFA program in Social Documentary at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. He was the producer of Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.
Executive Producer/Director: Maro Chermayeff
Executive Producers: Jeff Dupre & Jamie Gordon
Co-Executive Producer: Mira Chang
Series Producer: Joshua Bennett
Co-Producer: Rachel Koteen
Directors of Photography: Robert Hanna, Wolfgang Held
Editing: E. Donna Shepherd & Howard Sharp
A Path Appears is a production of Show of Force, LLC in association with the Independent Television Service (ITVS).
About Independent Lens
Independent Lens is an Emmy® Award-winning weekly series airing on PBS Monday nights at 10:00pm. The acclaimed series features documentaries united by the creative freedom, artistic achievement, and unflinching visions of independent filmmakers. Presented by Independent Television Service, the series is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, with additional funding from PBS and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. For more visit pbs.org/independentlens. Join the conversation: www.facebook.com and on Twitter.
About Women and Girls Lead
Women and Girls Lead is spearheaded by the Independent Television Service, an organization founded by Congress in 1988 and funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). CPB is a private corporation funded by the American people. Women and Girls Lead also receives generous support from EILEEN FISHER, INC. For more visit womenandgirlslead.org.