Cecilia

Close Up
Director: Pankaj Johar | Year: 2015 | Length: 85 min
Language: English with English subtitles | Age: 12+ years

Every year, 40,000 children are trafficked inside India for forced labour and sex, with the criminal justice system doing little to intervene.

54-year-old housekeeper Cecilia has developed a unique bond of friendship with her employer, filmmaker Johar Pankaj. It comes as an immense shock when they hear that Cecilia’s daughter has died in mysterious circumstances. The police believe that fourteen year old Mati committed suicide while working for a wealthy family in Delhi, but no one can explain why she was not at home with Cecilia‚Äôs husband.

Pankaj and his wife follow Cecilia and help her to find answers and justice. But her efforts seem doomed to fail in the face of complex family disputes, criminal gangs and a rotten judicial system. This is a fascinating and moving insight into the depths of a global problem.

Supported by the Bertha IDFA Fund.

Inspiration

As well as Cecilia’s struggle in the face of great pressure to relent, Pankaj’s efforts to confront his own connections to the trafficking trade are a breath of fresh air in what could otherwise have seemed a self-righteous investigation.

Creativity

A fly-on-the-wall doc with occasional flourishes of lensing, coherently edited, and with a thoughtful, unintrusive score.

Entertaining / Gripping

Often moving, with undertones of a social thriller as we sense the violent threats of the gangs behind the trafficking at every turn of Cecilia’s journey.

Viewer discretion advice

Brief verbal references to rape, without graphic detail.

IDFA, Official selection

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