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MAYA

"Rely on Strength from God to Overcome"

What You Need To Know:

MAYA is a drama for adults. Maya is a 15-year-old girl struggling to survive in a household with her alcoholic mother’s abusive boyfriend. To cope with her home life, she sets up a meeting with an attractive guy she meets on social media. However, he turns out to be older than Maya thought and grooms her into running away so he can turn her into a prostitute. Happily, though, her mother works to get clean from addiction, and Maya is rescued from the trafficker. Then, she embarks on the healing process to overcome her trauma.

MAYA was filmed in only 15 days, with fairly evident production limitations. However, the movie’s filmmakers overcome those limits with a strong story, script and performances. The subject matter of sex trafficking inherently isn’t appropriate for all ages. So, MAYA warrants extreme caution for older teenagers and adults. That said, the filmmakers don’t get too graphic in what they show. Even better, Maya and her mother derive their strength from God, not from themselves. However, MAYA also has scenes of substance abuse, though portrayed in a negative light.

Content:

(CC, BB, L, VV, S, AA, DD, MM):

Dominant Worldview and Other Worldview Content/Elements:
Strong Christian, biblical, moral worldview, promoted by the title character overcoming her abuse and realizing her own inherent value as a human being, and her mother’s overcoming of her addiction and working to get clean to be a better mother (in both parallel storylines, the women derive their strength from God, not from themselves), plus there’s a pro-life message in a brief scene between the title character and another woman who escaped trafficking while pregnant;

Foul Language:
One “a” word;

Violence:
Multiple depictions of male-on-female domestic violence and abuse, multiple implied (but never shown) rapes and sexual assaults, and some gun violence, including a man wounded by gunfire;

Sex:
Forced/non-consensual sexual activity is implied multiple times, but no sex is depicted or heard at any point;

Nudity:
No nudity;

Alcohol Use:
Antagonists consume alcoholic drinks socially at a party, alcohol is used to drug title character and other trafficked women, and title character’s mother is a severe alcoholic, but she overcomes it and so alcohol overall is portrayed negatively;

Smoking and/or Drug Use and Abuse:
Narcotics are used by two “johns” and offered to the trafficked women with them, one woman takes them and dies of an overdose, the title character refuses, her mother overdoses on prescription medication, but drugs overall are portrayed negatively;

Miscellaneous Immorality:
Much older adult male grooms and manipulates underage girl into distancing herself from her family and running away, and the victim develops Stockholm syndrome, but she recovers.

More Detail:

MAYA is a drama about a teenager girl who runs away with a man to escape her alcoholic mother’s abusive boyfriend, but then must be rescued and recover from a sex trafficking situation. MAYA overcomes an artificial opening to create a compelling, well-written story with good performances and has some Christian, biblical values about relying on strength from God, but the subject matter, which includes some references to substance abuse, warrants extreme caution.

Maya is a 15-year-old girl struggling to survive in a household with an alcoholic mother and her abusive boyfriend. To cope with her home life, she sets up a meeting with an attractive guy she meets on social media. He turns out to be much older than Maya thought, and he grooms her into running away with him so he can pimp her out. While her mother works to get clean from addiction and be a better mother, Maya is rescued from sex trafficking and embarks on the healing process to overcome her trauma.

Low-budget social impact movies often run into a common dilemma, between getting so deep into the story that they obscure the message, or sticking too closely to the message that they forget that their audience came to watch a narrative film, not a documentary. All too often, they choose the latter. Happily, MAYA’s filmmakers not only choose the former, they manage to do what so many in the genre cannot: avoid the dilemma entirely. Thus, Writer-Director Julia goes to extraordinary lengths to tastefully ensure maximum authenticity and accuracy to the real experiences of women in sex trafficking, but she’s also passionately committed to delivering a gripping narrative. The first 20 minutes are a tad artificial, but the rest of the screenplay ranks among one of the more emotionally compelling scripts in the social impact genre. MAYA was filmed in a mere 15 days, with fairly evident production limitations. However, viewers can (and routinely do) forgive movies for these limitations if the story, script and performances are strong; and, those elements in MAYA are certainly strong.

MAYA faithfully witnesses to the Christian principle that every human life has value and should never be treated as an object. The meat-and-potatoes of the title character’s story is not about her being trafficked or even about her escaping from trafficking. It’s about her unlearning the trauma-induced distortions of herself and her reality that were programmed into her by the villain’s grooming. This anti-brainwashing takes time and patience. However, through the support of her therapist, mother and friends, Maya comes to accept that her identity and her worth don’t come from the people who used her, but from God and the people who truly love her. This Christian, biblical message

Despite the disturbing subject matter, MAYA the movie is extremely careful about what events it depicts visually, preferring moments of deep character vulnerability to gratuitous scenes of sex and violence. Telling such a horrific story with such tasteful, poignant vision is a testament to the tremendous creativity and dexterity of the director and editor. The subject matter of sex trafficking is inherently not appropriate for all ages. So, MAYA warrants extreme caution for older teenagers and adults. That said, the filmmakers don’t get too graphic in what they show viewers. As a result, MAYA is about as age-appropriate an exposé of the horrors of commercialized sexual violence can possibly be. However, the movie also contains scenes with substance abuse, even though it portrays such behavior in a negative light.

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