All That Connects Us is a series of short films that look at how the internet and its constant flow of information, shaping young people’s lives around the world. For this particular episode New York filmmaker Codi Barbini examines the lives of girls in the outskirts of Apartadó, Colombia. Like most teenagers, Michel, 17, has a social media account, and loves taking selfies. But most of all, she desires to be free from the rules and regulations that society, place, and culture, dictate. In Michel's small rural village of limited power and running water we watch her life at school, at home with her mum, and how she uses the internet.
Through this exploration the film finds in Mishel’s case that the internet provides a place for opportunity, but also danger; it is an easy place for she and her friends to become targets for human trafficking. This is one of the realities for Mishel, and other teenagers in the internet age.
The series continues this theme of looking at all aspects of technology and information, positive and negative, and hopes to provide insight into the increasing numbers of young people being trafficked online.
Globally, a third of all trafficking victims are children in a crime worth $150 billion a year, the U.N.’s International Labour Organization estimates. Across Latin America, women and girls being sold into sex work is the most common form of human trafficking, according to the U.N.
Barbini << Often I have ideas, themes and a decided direction which guides my non-fiction work, but it’s important to me that my subjects have room for expression and the story is allowed to unfold. I enjoy observing, embedding, and experiencing people’s lives while creating room for collaboration and this is why I’m drawn to vérite. Someone once said “ A creator knows that you follow the thing to where it’s going, not to where you think it ought to go “ and I believe that. Sometimes it can be harder to let things happen but I think that’s where the magic is.
I met Mishel the first time I traveled to Colombia, in the summer of 2018, while I was working on another film project. I got the chance to talk to her over dinner one night and we clicked immediately. We added each other on social media and talked online. I spent the previous 6 months working on another project about teenagers in the States and was immensely curious about Mishel and her life in comparison.
I traveled to Colombia again that fall on the tail of another project and was able to film with Mishel and her friends. They are so open, articulate and opinionated which made for a raw unfiltered look into their lives, and in turn offers beautiful insight into some of the complexities of “existing online”.
None of this would have been possible without Nicole Riggs, who believed in the project and my incredible Colombia crew (Paula Abdia & Raffael Ospino). >>