Young actors Donny Pangilinan and Nourijune Hooshmand recently launched a short film to raise awareness on the harsh reality of human trafficking and how a strong support system is vital to the survivors’ recovery.
The short film, “Graduation,” was produced and directed by the nonprofit Called to Rescue Philippines (CTR PH) and written and directed by international filmmaker Dean Colin Marcial. It tells the story of a young woman (played by Hooshmand) who survives being trafficked but falls into deep depression. She manages to get back on her feet through the support of her brother (played by Donny Pangilinan).
Marcial, together with CTR PH advocacy head Abby Anciano and president Anthony Pangilinan, envisioned the short film to bring emphasis not only to the rescue of those trafficked but to their reintegration into society as well.
At the film launch in a Makati café, Anthony Pangilinan wondered why efforts should stop at the rescue and pointed out that after-rescue activities were equally important. “[This project] was made out of frustration on my part, and is one of the reasons I decided to do it,” he explained.
Said Marcial: “Our main focus was on a survivor’s reintegration into society. It’s something that I drew on, something Donny and Nourijune drew on as well.”
From there, the CTR PH president and the film director gathered a team of volunteers to bring the short film to life. With help from family, friends, clients, and donors, “Graduation” became a purpose-driven production.
Donny Pangilinan is a long-time anti-human trafficking advocate. He and Hooshmand are now active CTR PH volunteers.
Marcial handpicked the two young celebrities for the starring roles. Asked about their participation in the project, they both said they readily accepted the invitation.
“When Dean decided to go through this project, alongside Nour, it’s not something I had to think twice about,” said Pangilinan. “I specifically chose to do this. I really believe this is something we needed to do.”
Hooshman said anti-human trafficking advocacy “is really important work.” She added: “I’m very thankful that I had this opportunity. I’m really happy to be a part of this.”
Dr. Cyndi Romine, international director of CTR PH, said the film “is for everybody because we all know somebody. To assume we don’t know somebody would be an error on our part.”
Is “Graduation” for those rescued, or those taking care of the rescued? According to the producers, it is a film made to touch everyone who views it. Its purpose is to shed light on the significance of aftercare work and of a loving community — a part of healing that, more often than not, is overlooked.
“Once you are rescued, you need to meet a lot of people and still go through the journey with the help of people who love you,” Donny Pangilinan said.
Added Hooshmand: “The bond of family is different, and knowing that someone is there for you can really help your healing.”
Through the 5-minute film, CTR PH hopes to draw attention to the post-rescue challenges confronting trafficking survivors and to promote the collective role of community, especially family members, in addressing their needs, supporting their rehabilitation process, and cultivating a safe space for their healing journey.
“It takes a village to raise a child. It takes a village to heal a child,” Anthony Pangilinan said. Everyone is called to rescue.