Director and Editor: Maria Peek
Producers: Maria Peek and Stephen Peek
Cinematographer Stephen Peek
“Sextortion: The Hidden Pandemic,” made its world premiere at this year’s Santa Barbara International Film Festival as part of the Social Justice Feature Documentaries, and recently through the Spotlight Docs Series (a 501c3 that the filmmakers founded), the film recently completed a sold-out 20+ city educational tour around the country (to audiences over 5,000 people), where the filmmakers, and Federal agents who ran the landmark case (declassified for first time in this film), have been onsite to experience the emotional and powerful moments—where victims and victims’ families spoke up during the post screening Q&A’s. They have over 200 additional requests across the globe asking for an educational screening series in their cities. The EU Parliament and The Pentagon have begun planning screenings with the filmmakers for later this year.
The internet can be an amazing place that has helped make life easier but with that comes more responsibility. It is all of our jobs to make the internet a safer place for children. This film empowers children, parents and community members to help make the internet a safer place for all.
The case featured in the film was declassified by (HSI) right before this film, comparable in scope to the case featured in the critically acclaimed “Spotlight.” It’s important to note the difference between human trafficking (cases in the hundreds of thousands), and sextortion (cases in the tens of millions) – as sextortion is 1,000 times more prevalent, and is often the precursor to trafficking. 1 in 4 kids are affected or know someone who has been affected by sextortion.
Through partnerships with the Department of Justice and Homeland Security, the filmmaking team had unique unrestricted access to all government documents for an international sextortion case of a Top Gun pilot with hundreds of victims, unsealed for this film for the very first time. By interviewing survivors and their parents, this true crime piece exposes this fastest growing crime against children, the tactics of online predators, and the voices of parents and law enforcement poised to stop online child exploitation in its tracks. Through interviews with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), “Sextortion: The Hidden Pandemic” shows the scale of online enticement and exploitation of children-- and what we can do to stop it. The filmmakers created an online educational curriculum in partnership with NCMEC, which is available at https://www.missingkids.org/netsmartz. This curriculum will be available to educators, parents, federal agents and police departments, and is age-appropriate for middle and high school students.