Enemies to Allies

Filmmaker Q&A with Director Julie Winokur

Is there a particular documentary film or filmmaker that had a major influence on your career?

Judith Helfand’s Blue Vinyl was an accessible, entertaining treatment on toxic chemicals PVC siding. The inspired change within the construction industry and encouraging Habitat for Humanity to stop using these cheaper, but dangerous materials. The impact and approach of this film informed me on the possibilities of real change through great storytelling.


What motivated you to make your impact video?

I was initially asked by the Open Society Foundations to document KASH Kenya, which is one of its grantees.


Please tell us what camera(s) you shot with primarily – and any other special equipment that you used and why you used it.

Canon C-100


How did your story evolve from day one, to the very last day in post? Is your story what you thought it would be?

I had hoped to find a strong central figure to tell the story of sex worker rights and the relationship between protecting those rights and police conduct. The documentary gods not only delivered strong characters in the form of a sex worker advocate and a police chief, but I got to see the principles of KASH play out through an abused sex worker who was empowered to file a claim against her assailant.


Please describe the most rewarding experience you had while making this film.

Observing a rape victim hold her head high at a police station to file a report was deeply moving.


What advice can you give to other impact filmmakers?

Even in the darkest places, seek out hopeful narratives and work hard not just to produce meaningful films, but to distribute these films to audiences that would not otherwise witness alternate solutions to social problems. Work closely with the grassroots organizations that serve the population you hope to document because they can both facilitate your work, but also benefit the most from what you create. They are your partners in this process.


What’s your favorite part about the filmmaking process and why?

I have two favorite parts: the first encounter with your subject where you learn their story for the first time, and the moment when an edit falls into place and you know you have a narrative that flows.


What’s the one item you always take with you when working out in the field and why?

I wear lucky bracelets that my husband gave me. I made a wish on each one, and when they break, I assume that wish came true.


Can you describe any obstacles you encountered in making your film and/or in your distribution/exhibition efforts?

We didn’t have any major obstacles because we did a lot of pre-production for this film and had fantastic access. The film was initially shared at the World Conference on AIDS as an example of innovative approaches to slowing the spread of HIV.


What do you want audiences to take away from this video?

Audiences should understand sex workers as human beings whose rights need to be protected just as much as anyone else’s. Women become sex workers for a variety of reasons. They should not be further penalized because of their circumstances.


Please list key points that should be covered in a post-screening discussion:

Sex workers rights, innovative approaches to stopping the spread of HIV, police accountability


What opportunities are available for those interested in getting further involved?

Volunteer or donate to KASH Kenya


Please provide any additional resources (websites, links to additional videos, forms, articles, etc.) relevant to the context of the issue discussed in your video:



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