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Las Vegas Filmmaker Focuses On Sex Trafficking In New Film

The Las Vegas Film Fest is underway and one of its organizers is a film buff who 20 years ago started CineVegas, and this year has a documentary in the festival about sex trafficking in Nevada.

“We don’t actually bill the film as being about sex trafficking because it’s really a personal portrait of a woman who got herself out of a pretty horrific situation from her early years,” filmmaker Robin Greenspun told KNPR's State of Nevada.

The film is called "The Zen Speaker: Breaking the Silence" and it is about Amy Ayoub. Amy is the daughter of casino executive Bobby Ayoub, who became a well-known political fundraiser and public speaking expert.

Greenspun actually knew Ayoub for years but never knew her story.

“I knew her as a businesswoman," Greenspun said, "I knew her as an amazing fundraiser. When Amy called, I knew it was going to cost us money. But I never really obviously knew her.”

Then a friend of hers told her that Ayoub was going to speak at a luncheon and that she really needed to hear what she had to say.

“I was just astonished as was the rest of the audience," Greenspun said, "As soon as I heard her story, I felt it was going to be my next film."

Ayoub never talked about being trafficked. She only opened up about it when she testified in favor of a bill before the State Legislature that increased penalties for traffickers.

“She literally couldn’t go on anymore without sharing the story because it was slowly eating away at her," Greenspun explained.

It wasn't just the violence she suffered during her experience it was the lingering effects of that trauma, and that is one of the messages of the film that Greenspun would like audiences to walk away with.

“You think of prostitution you think of ‘Pretty Woman’ guess what it’s a wonderful fantasy but that’s not it,” she said.

Greenspun believes that all prostitution is sex trafficking and society needs to change the way it talks about the victims and the way it thinks about who the victims are. 

“I want people to get angry," she said, "I want people to realize that it’s not just young girls being kidnapped, which is horrific, but it can be your neighbor’s daughter who you see playing soccer with your daughter."

Robin Greenspun, filmmaker

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Joe Schoenmann joined Nevada Public Radio in 2014. He works with a talented team of producers at State of Nevada who explore the casino industry, sports, politics, public health and everything in between.