The characters may be fictional, but their story is one that reflects a dark reality in Long Island’s migrant community: immigrant workers who are mistreated, grossly underpaid or even forced into labor through human trafficking.
Over the next two weeks, A Prayer For Justice will be shot in locations throughout the North Fork, including Holy Trinity Lutheran Church and Silver Sands Motel in Greenport, as well as homes in both Riverhead and Greenport.
The independent film will explore the harrowing experiences of human trafficking victims and those who live on the outskirts of the operation – including a man who puts himself at risk to try to help them find freedom.
Human trafficking is a “national problem,” said Crystal Stevens, the film’s screenwriter. But awareness of this issue is especially important on Long Island, which is home to both a vibrant immigrant community and a large agricultural industry.
The film will follow the story of an ex-convict who is struggling to find employment on Long Island after he is released from jail. Soon after finding work with a local businessman, he discovers his employer is orchestrating a human trafficking and smuggling operation, sneaking Nigerian migrants into the country and then forcing them to work for no pay. The migrants are forced to live in the employer’s basement until they are able to “pay him back” for smuggling them into the country.
“The ex-convict then decides he’s going to try to put a stop to the abuse,” Stevens said.
Stevens feels it’s important not only to illustrate the vast suffering experienced by victims of human trafficking, but also the importance of fighting back when faced with an injustice.
“This story is an opportunity to show that when you come across bad guys, you can stand up to them and do the right thing,” Stevens said. “I’d like to foster that kind of attitude.
“With all of these allegations coming out right now against powerful people, you see that there are so many people around who didn’t do anything,” she added.
Filming for the independent film will begin next Monday and last into December. Non-speaking roles are still available for parts of the Nigerian migrants, and Stevens says they would prefer to fill those roles from within the local community.
A Hauppauge resident, Stevens was thrilled at the opportunity to shoot a film on Long Island. “I want so badly to build our filmmaking community out here,” she said. “We have such great talent on Long Island, and there are so many beautiful locations.”
Stevens’ company, Epic Artists Film, is teaming up with Kajaii Media Corp and Fire Lotus Entertainment to produce the film.
Anyone interested in applying for remaining non-speaking roles or seeking more information about the film can contact Stevens at 631-346-7788.