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'I Will Rise' documentary holds Kansas City premiere

Filmmakers hope project serves as educational tool on topic of local, nationwide human trafficking
"I Will Rise" Documentary
Posted at 5:18 PM, Nov 06, 2022

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Christine McDonald escaped commercial exploitation in 2004.

"I had to fight really hard, and nobody should ever have to fight like I did," McDonald said.

Her journey of survival, and now advocacy, is one the KSHB 41 News team has followed for years.

"When I exited, there were no agencies, there were no programs, we didn't have language," McDonald said.

A shelter is now named after her in Kansas City, Missouri, to assist those who are commercially and sexually exploited.

Sunday, McDonald's story was showcased on the big screen as she served as inspiration for a new documentary titled "I Will Rise."

The film, featuring a dramatization of Christine's experience, premiered at the Independence Boulevard Christian Church.

Those involved want the film to be an educational tool to help chart a path forward.

"Just thinking it can't happen to you, like, you think you're so sheltered and you think this wouldn't happen to me, right?" said Nevaeh Fulk, an actress in the project.

Producer and director Anita Cordell hopes viewers walk away not feeling scared but prepared with a better understanding of the impact some choices can make.

Russ Tuttle, president and founder of the Stop Trafficking Project, has a similar goal. He says his project works with schools to educate and engage with parents and students.

"We've been with 80,000 students in Kansas and Missouri, and roughly 1/3 of those students, based on surveys sixth grade through 12th grade, tell us they've met a complete stranger in person they first met online or are active in sending nudes of themselves to people online," Tuttle said.

Cordell hopes the documentary will bring more awareness to the community effort needed to solve this problem.

And as for Christine McDonald, she is hopeful for the future.

"I am optimistic," McDonald said.