Malia had a happy childhood. A descendant of Nubian royalty, her father was the champion wrestler of her village, and she had a carefree life in her closeknit community in the Sudanese Mountains. Then, when she was 12, the mujahadeen attacked, and like whole generations of African’s before her, she was stood in a line, examined, and sold into slavery. I am Slave cuts between the bright openness of the sandy African plains and the cold dark closet where Malia spends her nights as an 18-year-old domestic servant in London. Without papers, friends or even an understanding of how to unlock a door in a Western house she is trapped; terrified, but forced to veil her fear under a mask of suburban pleasantries or risk once again being whipped and beaten. The audience knows Malia could easily escape by simply running outside and finding a police officer or good Samaritan, but the film brilliantly demonstrates how her stolen childhood and lack of understanding of a foreign land makes it impossible for her to realize how close she is to freedom. Still, I am Slave never strays far from hope. The story is inspired by a true one, and Malia is only one of an estimated 5,000 women enslaved in London alone.
I am Slave premieres at TIFF on Tuesday, Sept. 14, with additional screenings on Sept. 15 and 19