Blue Earth Alliance: Tim Matsui: Leaving the Life
One of the remarkable aspects of Tim Matsui’s “Leaving the Life” is the work he’s done to make sure that the project is more than an affecting, well-told story. For Matsui, creating an award-winning documentary film was just the beginning. He ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to raise money to produce DVDs that he could use in his grassroots outreach. And he has helped aid and educate policymakers and others who are working to end sex trafficking of minors. Matsui pushes us to expand our thinking about the role visual storytellers can play in contemporary society. A longtime partner of Blue Earth, Matsui is currently fundraising for a follow-up film about the culture and politics creating the demand for sex buying.
Leaving the Life
“Leaving The Life” is a multi-platform initiative to facilitate a collective, action-oriented dialogue around the crisis of commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking of children in the U.S. After working fifteen years on issues related to trauma and victimization, first with sexual violence and now with various forms of human trafficking, both in the U.S. and abroad, photojournalist and filmmaker Tim Matsui has embarked on an innovative long-term effort.
The project has three integrated components:
1.The first film (The Long Night), supported in part by the Alexia Foundation and produced by MediaStorm, follows a father as he searches for his daughter; a teenager’s struggle to break free of her drug addiction and street prostitution; a young girl rebuilding herself; and police officers trying to help those trafficked to break free. A second film is in the works.
2.An outreach campaign to engage key audiences with participatory practices supported, in part, by The Fledgling Fund.
- Screenings to Washington State Legislature, State Supreme Court and Federal Judges
- Use by the Ohio State Supreme Court for training
- Screening and panel discussion for the Family Court of the District of Columbia Superior Court’s annual Interdisciplinary Conference
- Screenings and advocacy support for community groups, non profits, anti-trafficking task forces, law enforcement and health care professionals across the nation
- Support for policy change in King County (Seattle) government.
3. An online platform of engagement.
The photographs featured here are stills Matsui created during the filming of The Long Night. To watch the trailer for the film The Long Night visit: http://www.thelongnightmovie.com/
Read about Matsui’s support for policy change in regional government on Medium: “I’m a Photojournalist and I’ve Been Working with Policy Makers. Should I Feel Dirty?”
Over his 20-year journalism career, Tim Matsui has focused on trauma and victimization, developing an ability for relational, intimate documentary work. His photojournalistic style, after years spent covering news, results in observational and visceral cinematography.
A non-profit founder, he combined documentary films with sexual violence advocacy work. After covering international human trafficking, he focused on domestic minor sex trafficking to produce The Long Night, a feature-length documentary. He reported, directed, and shot the film, and then, using his non-profit experience, created a grassroots impact campaign.
Through community and government partnership, Matsui co-created and co-hosted a convening with the King County (WA) Executive, Sheriff, and Prosecutor to develop regional policies on sex trafficking. His work is still in use nationally.
In 2015, Tim swept the photojournalism industry awards for The Long Night with first place prizes at World Press Photo, Pictures of the Year International, and Best of Photojournalism.
He was also recognized by the Overseas Press Club, and has won grants from the Open Society Foundations, Fledgling Fund, Alexia Foundation, and the Fund for Investigative Journalism. He has produced fundraising, communications, and impact campaigns with the Casey Family Programs, Drug Policy Alliance, Shultz Family Foundation, Starbucks, and YouthCare. He was nominated for two National News & Documentary Emmy Awards and was a finalist for both the Stanford-Knight Journalism Fellowship and the Guggenheim Fellowship.
Blue Earth Alliance is focused on partnering with photographers and filmmakers who educate the public about critical environmental and social issues. Founded in 1996 as a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization by photographers Natalie Fobes and Phil Borges, Blue Earth Alliance supports visual storytellers through fiscal sponsorship and other resources. The organization extends tax-exempt status to photographers and filmmakers whose projects are accepted after an application and review process. Accepted projects are allowed to seek grants and tax-deductible donations under the sponsorship of Blue Earth Alliance. The next submission period will be in summer 2019. For more information, visit blueearth.org.
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