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The Alexia Foundation’s Women’s Initiative Grant was presented to filmmaker and photojournalist Tim Matsui in 2013. The grant awards photojournalists that create projects dealing with women’s issues in the United States, and embraces the Foundation’s ethos of developing “stories that drive social change”.

Client: Alexia Foundation
Published: December 1, 2014
The Challenge
After an initial review of material, we decided that the project warranted a much more expansive investigation into the subject of domestic minor sex trafficking--or commercial sexual exploitation of minors-- in Seattle. Given the breadth of material and the depth of the stories, Tim Matsui and MediaStorm committed to collaborating to create the largest single project either had ever worked on.

In addition to the challenge of creating a project of such scale, Matsui needed to secure access to the King County Sheriff's Office, The Genesis Project, as well as individuals who were or had been subjected to forced prostitution. The documentation and editing of the project would require a sensitive understanding of the issue so as to not do additional harm to the survivors of this type of abuse.

The Solution
Matsui spent months working to secure access to the subjects of the film. He was aided by previous relationships with social services in the Seattle area.

Once access was secured, Matsui and Editor/Producer Tim McLaughlin worked together to identify subjects and important themes to be documented. McLaughlin edited while Matsui worked in the field, and they traded notes on what was happening with one another’s work.

The collaboration proved to be instrumental in developing the stories.

The Results
The films have been shown to numerous organizations across the United States, including police departments and women’s advocacy groups. The film was shown at The Paley Center for Media to an audience of over 200, where it was very well received. The film was followed up by a panel discussion including several of the subjects of the film, as well as Rachel Llyod, a leading advocate for girls forced into prostitution, and Gloria Browne-Marshall.

Advocates, funders, and ordinary families have been moved by these stories and many have requested access to the stories to use as a tool in their campaigns. Most importantly, the families and individuals profiled in the films have had the opportunity to tell their stories; and in this way, they hope they have helped some young girls at risk of exploitation.

About the Client
The Alexia Foundation promotes the power of photojournalism to give voice to social injustice, to respect history lest we forget it and to understand cultural difference as our strength – not our weakness.

Through grants, scholarships and special projects, The Alexia Foundation supports photographers as agents for change.

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