Festival Speaker Series

Shattering the Silence: Visual Stories of Human Trafficking

Wednesday, May 22, 6:00 - 8:00 pm EDT
Leica Gallery Boston

74 Arlington Street Boston, MA 

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Photo by Smita Sharma
Photo by Smita Sharma


Two women photographers bring the human trafficking reality to light through stories of survivors and to introduce the matrix of organizations attempting to eliminate this global issue.

Smita Sharma published We Cry In Silence, a book and resource magazine chronicling her 9-year exploration into trafficking in South Asia. In addition to sharing still images, her book will be available for signing.

Photographer and filmmaker, Matilde Simas formed the organization Capture Humanity to address human trafficking and gender-based violence globally. Her most recent documentary, Woman Rising, focuses on the lives of survivors of human trafficking in America, sharing the story of a survivor living in Maine. We are thrilled to screen this short 24-minute documentary film.

This talk will be moderated by Sybylla Smith. Sybylla Smith is an independent curator, consultant, and host of the Concept Aware® podcast, focusing on concept development for artists and advocacy for gender parity in photography.

Doors open at 5:45. Discussion begins at 6:15. Our event will have time for audience discussion.


Smita Sharma

Smita SharmaSmita Sharma is a Delhi-based photojournalist who has documented social justice, sexual crimes, human trafficking, and environmental issues in the Global South through long-form visual narratives. Smita is a TED fellow, TED Speaker and an IWMF reporting fellow. For Stolen Lives, her in-depth work documenting sex trafficking in India and Bangladesh for National Geographic Magazine, she received the Amnesty International Media award and the Fetisov Journalism Award for Outstanding Investigative Reporting. Smita also received the Indian of the Year award, Exceptional Women of Excellence award, Las Fotos Advocacy award, and One World Media UK award. Her work has been published in National Geographic Magazine, The Nature Conservancy, Wall Street Journal, TIME, BBC World, Human Rights Watch, Die Zeit amongst many others and exhibited globally including at the UN headquarters in New York. Smita is actively engaged in public speaking, victim advocacy, and international public education. Her book We Cry In Silence documenting cross-border trafficking of underage girls in South Asia (FotoEvidence) received the Award of Excellence at POY International and the 2023 Lucie Photo Book Prize in the Independent Category. 

Matilde Simas

Matilde Simas

Matilde Simas is a visual storyteller with a profound commitment to capturing and sharing human experiences that are often overlooked or misunderstood. 

In 2017, Matilde founded Capture Humanity, an organization founded on bringing awareness to human rights issues. Her efforts have led to collaborations with many community-based organizations  including Freedom for All, Voice of the Free Philippines, ChildVoice Uganda and HAART Kenya.

With an unwavering focus on social justice, Matilde has dedicated her career to documenting the resilience and struggles of individuals across the globe. Her landmark project, “Survivor: A Global Look  at Human Trafficking,” showcases nearly a decade of telling the stories of human trafficking survivors in seven countries. Through her lens, viewers are invited to witness the pain, resilience, and hope that characterizes the lives of those affected by this global issue.

Matilde's commitment to advocacy through visual storytelling has led her to produce impactful documentary films, including “Forced to Marry” that played a significant role in raising  awareness at the UNICEF Global Local event, where she highlighted the critical issue of forced marriage to a global audience of volunteers, citizens, and policymakers.

Her most recent documentary, "Woman Rising," focuses on the lives of survivors of human trafficking in America. In 2023, her contribution to public art was recognized through sponsorships from CENTER Advancing the Photographic ART and Finding Our Voices Breaking the  Silence of Domestic Violence, affirming her role as a pivotal figure in the intersection of art and social  change.

J. Sybylla Smith, Moderator

J. Sybylla SmithJ. Sybylla Smith brings a concept development lens to her work as an independent curator, podcaster and consultant. Smith is on a mission to illuminate, elevate and amplify the work of women photographers and other marginalized, underrepresented narratives. Her approach to visual storytelling is with an intersectional lens and a focus on equity and inclusion.

Her Concept Aware® podcast engages thousands of listeners from over 70 countries in a visual culture conversation rooted in the contemporary photobook-making process. Her 80 + interviews explore creative practice and concept development. Her creative framework, Concept Aware®: How You See & Why It Matters, provides specific tools to visual artists to bring their abstract ideas to fruition in image, text, exhibition and book form.

Her curation features 115+ international photographers in over 30 exhibitions in the U.S., Mexico, Colombia and Japan. She consults with international photographers to refine ideas, develop portfolios, hone projects, create exhibitions and complete book proposals. Smith guest lectures and teaches workshops on Concept Aware® at educational institutions and arts organizations nationally, writes for publications on contemporary photography and jurys global photo exhibitions and awards.


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