I met Marta Farina on my very first trip to Vietnam, seven years ago.
I spent two weeks with Marta and her then-partner Fausto, getting to know Sapa and the Hmong girls who have now become the focus of our feature documentary, ‘Sisters For Sale’.
The next time I saw Marta and Fausto was in their hometown in northern Italy, two years later.
It was a strange moment in my life – I’d heard about the abduction of my Hmong friend M from Sapa and wanted to do something about it, but didn’t yet know what form that would take.
I would never have suspected that that simple thought would become the dominant fact of my life for years to come.
Marta is an amazing artist, and Fausto is a house painter. Together we painted a mural outside their hometown featuring M and Sapa’s rice terraces (I can’t find a photo right now, unfortunately!).
Marta studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice and the École Estienne in Paris, and her award-winning work has been widely published and exhibited.
I first announced Marta’s involvement in ‘Sisters For Sale’ three years ago.
Marta was to illustrate an animated title sequence for the film – and she did, and it was beautiful.
Sadly, it’s among many parts of the film that have since been left on the cutting-room floor, for brevity’s sake.
Happily, Marta and I developed other animated sequences which feature elsewhere in ‘Sisters For Sale’, and are now among my favourite parts of the film.
I’m a huge fan of Marta’s work, have loved the process of creating something so beautiful together, and want to thank her for all the time and energy she has put into the film.
As you know, the abduction and suspected trafficking of my friends from Vietnam inspired the work which has dominated the past 4.5 years of my life: raising awareness of the global human trafficking crisis.
That work has, in turn, led me to an even greater global issue: the issue of women’s rights around the world.
It can be very easy, particularly as a male, to remain ignorant of the true depth and magnitude of this issue on a global scale. It can also be very easy for us to remain ignorant of the effects our own personal actions have on the women in our own lives.
I’m currently taking some time out from my work on ‘Sisters For Sale’, and am very interested to take a closer look at what it means to be a woman on planet Earth in 2017 – as determined by politics, by history, by men, and by women themselves.
I shared this very simple question on my personal Facebook page last week and have had an amazing response, so I’ve decided to share it here with the female supporters of ‘The Human, Earth Project’:
What does being a woman mean to you?
I want to hear whatever you’d like to say – the good and bad, on strength and vulnerability, on childhood, on motherhood, on childlessness, on love, on marriage, on sexuality.
Here’s the tricky part: if at all possible, I’d like you to keep your answers short, to try and get at the essence of a complex human experience in just a few sentences.
You can answer via our Facebook page or message me directly at email@example.com. Take as much time as you’d like.
Please feel free to share this message – I’d like to hear as many responses as possible, though I may not be able to reply to them all personally.
If you haven’t pre-ordered ‘Sisters For Sale’, that’s still the only guaranteed way of seeing it.