Marish has been kept as a domestic slave by a family in Hungary for 10 years. A Woman Captured opens up the dark world of modern day slavery behind closed doors.
Filmmaker Bernadett Tuza-Ritter had little experience of modern day slavery until she met a Hungarian woman named Eta. Eta boasted about her live-in domestic worker, Marish. She believed the fact that she had a domestic servant elevated her social status. She agreed to let Bernadett meet and film Marish in her home. This meeting would prove to be a serendipitous twist of fate, for both Marish and Bernadett. Over the course of two and a half years, Bernadett becomes a first-hand witness to the relentless torrent of abuse and humiliation Marish encounters. With such rare access, Bernadette captures, with startling intimacy, the debasing effects of the enslavement of another human being.
[NOTE: Due to copyrights, the full film is no longer available to view online.]
Bernadett says that she was not aware of the existence of modern day slavery until she met Marish. She wasn’t even sure if this could be defined as slavery. “I just had the feeling that a human being should not behave with another like that. So I just had the feeling that this must be some kind of slavery, but this was a discussion only in the post production. And I had a really huge fight with other people who said, this is not modern day slavery,” she says. Eventually, when the film was screened, people who were working in the field confirmed this is indeed modern day slavery.
Around the world, there are 40 million people subjected to modern day slavery. Bernadett explains it happens in every country but in different forms. She believes the premiere of the film increased awareness of the issue in Hungary. Before the film’s release, there were those who claimed there was no such thing happening in Hungary.
Marish was exploited and abused as a housekeeper- entirely unpaid, performing all manner of back-breaking household duties seven days a week in exchange only for meals, cigarettes and a couch to sleep on. She even has to hand over the money she earns from an extra job as a cleaner in a factory. She is forbidden to do anything without permission. Bernadett tried to call the police once but if there is no proof of maltreatment, they can’t do anything. She and Marish decided not to pursue the matter further to avoid more problems for Marish.
Bernadett filmed Marish over two and a half years. Finally, Marish decides to escape drawing courage from the filmmaker's presence. Bernadett states that it was completely Marish’s decision to leave but she tried to support her emotionally. “I thought in the last ten years, everyone told her what to do. So I really didn’t want to tell her what to do. Of course, I tried to show her that she's a really strong woman who would be happier if she starts a new life,” she says.
Marish had nowhere to go, no money or any livelihood. For two months, Eta kept looking for her. Despite the abuse, most victims are afraid of leaving because of psychological trauma and physical danger. Bernadett emphasizes the importance of understanding the victims, “What I see is that people love to blame the victim. They love to say that this must be her fault.”
A Woman Captured provides a raw and intimate portrayal of the psychology behind enslavement. With the presence of the camera, Marish starts to recover her self-confidence. Bernadett believes that after ten years, Marish regained her life and dignity, “The most important thing is that I stood by her. I think this was the reason why she started to believe in herself. It was very hard for her to trust anyone after ten years of captivity.”
Today there are still millions of people trapped in modern day slavery. Bernadett says we all have a responsibility to stop this crime, “I think everyone should observe his own territory. We should walk with open eyes, and if we see something like this, we should go help and report it,” she says.
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