Working closely with Oscar-winning documentarian Davis Guggenheim for a number of years, Derek Doneen found the inspiration for his feature directorial debut in contacts the director had made.
Following world-renowned Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai in the making of He Named Me Malala, as she was preparing to accept the Nobel Peace Prize, Guggenheim met children’s rights activist Kailash Satyarthi, who shared that honor with his documentary subject. Meeting Satyarthi, Guggenheim saw an individual whose work should be celebrated and spotlighted with a film.
The founder of the Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save Childhood Movement), as well as the Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation and the Global March Against Child Labour, Satyarthi has consistently put himself in harm’s way while liberating more than 86,000 children in India from child labor, slavery and trafficking, all the while advocating strongly for children’s medical care and education, creating the change he wishes to see in the world.
“I was shocked to read about Kailash and his work because I didn’t know anything about it,” Doneen admitted, sitting down with Satyarthi and producer Sarah Anthony at Deadline’s Sundance Studio. “I didn’t know the pervasiveness of this issue and immediately was [struck] by how inspiring he is, the movement he’s built on a global level.”
“Thrilled” by the prospect of having his work captured in a film, Satyarthi’s only drive was to bring child slavery into the global discourse. “People must understand that slavery has not yet been abolished, and there are people—very ordinary people—who are fighting to end slavery, and especially child slavery and child labor,” the activist said.
To hear more from Deadline’s conversation with the Kailash team—as they discuss the harrowing circumstances inherent to Satyarthi’s rescue missions—click above.
The Deadline Studio at Sundance 2018 is presented by Hyundai. Special thanks to Calii Love.