Communities / Libraries

Audience Feedback

«I feel blessed to see your incredibly moving “life-changing” documentary film.  This amazing film will heal and change lives.  “Sands of Silence” is a tremendous contribution to humanity.   It’s a must see film!  It needs to be seen by everyone globally!»

May Liang, artist, Bay Area


«Your film touches a very painful subject, but in essence, your film is about love.»

Young businessman, NuHive screening, Shanghai

«Violence and abuse have a best friend, a trusted accomplice: Silence. After watching Sands of Silence I can hear the waves of courage crashing loudly against the rocks of silence; a sad sound wrapped in sweet possibility of all that can be… thank you Ms. Alvarez-Stehle and fellow brave soldiers.»

Yareli Arizmendi, actress, Like Water for Chocolate

“She-he-all who in spite of fear break the silence are heroes. Chelo Alvarez-Stehle director and subject of Sands of Silence, along with the brave protagonists of this documentary are nothing short of that: heroes.»

Sergio Arau, filmmaker, A Day Without a Mexican

«I loved when you said that you consider yourself a humanist first, then a feminist.»

Hiromi, female freshman student, Hiroshima City University, Japan


«I was moved by Chelo’s invaluable work because I can feel how hard must have been for her to speak up and reveal everything she and her family went through.
This topic the film addresses needs to be share with every woman and man.»

Audience member, Cervantes Institute, Tokyo


High Schools

Students’ Feedback

Sands of Silence Documentary screening to New Roads, Santa Monica, California – high school students

“The film was informative, inspiring, heartwarming, heartbreaking, moving, emotional,and  welcoming to other survivors of sexual abuse such as myself. The film expressed kindness towards the victims where most people might put blame. I thought it showed a fascinating comparison between two different kinds of abuse cases and the film delved into the stories without putting the acts/victims against one another. It  somehow created an inviting atmosphere despite the heavy topics discussed. It was inviting enough to encourage people to share their own personal experiences.

“I really enjoyed the film. I liked how the documentary was really just like watching a story unfold. That’s something not many documentaries are able to do. It was an emotional movie that did a great job of shedding light on a topic that needs to be seen.”

“I think the topic is very intriguing and a great idea. I love how raw it is, really tells the individual how very real this issue is in our world and how it can really damage someone. I really love the title of the film because it’s something so small that tells one so much about another…where it all began in the grains of sand and the silence that carried on with her for such a long time. I think the only flaw I have of this movie is that it can be slow moving at times, but that isn’t an overall statement just an individual opinion.”

“The film was very personal and raw. The scenes including her family and childhood, especially where she confronts her former abuser in a letter, was especially intimate and moving. I’m admire Chelo for her ability to become vulnerable with her personal life in order to inspire and improve the lives of countless others, still searching for the courage to come out as a victim.”

READ our experience screening the film to a hundred 14 to 18 year-old high school students in Spain

Sands of Silence a tool to empower students

Sands of Silence: Preview in Paris!

Le Centre Audiovisuel Simone de Beauvoir présente

Projection du documentaire inédit de Chelo Álvarez-Stehle

Sands of Silence: Waves of Courage

En avant-première française

Lundi 19 mars 2018 à 20h
au cinéma Le Luminor-Hôtel de Ville à Paris
en présence de la réalisatrice.

Sands of Silence: Waves of Courage de Chelo Álvarez-Stehle
États-Unis, Espagne, 2016, DCP, 86 min

Inspirée par les survivantes du trafic sexuel qu’elle a filmées et par leur transformation, la réalisatrice trouve le courage de briser le silence autour des abus sexuels qu’elle même a subis.

Après plus de 15 ans consacrés à dévoiler le monde souterrain de l’exploitation sexuelle et du trafic des êtres humains de l’Asie à l’Amérique, la journaliste et réalisatrice espagnole Chelo Álvarez-Stehle revient sur la plage de son enfance, Zarautz, au Pays Basque, pour nous révéler ses secrets de famille. C’est lors de son travail en compagnie des survivantes du trafic sexuel qu’elle fait la connaissance de Virginia Isaias, une jeune mexicaine qui parvient à s’échapper avec sa fille de six mois d’un réseau de prostitution basé dans le Chiapas et traverse la frontière américaine. Il lui faudra dix ans de dur labeur pour reconstruire sa vie et devenir une ambassadrice de la lutte contre l’exploitation sexuelle au sein de la communauté latine du sud de la Californie. Inspirée par le courage de Virginia, Chelo décide de creuser dans les profondeurs de son sujet de prédilection, la violence de genre. Ainsi naît un voyage introspectif qui conduit la réalisatrice à revenir en Espagne brisant un long et douloureux silence personnel et familial sur les violences sexuelles.

Chelo Álvarez-Stehle

En tant que journaliste et documentariste, je travaille depuis vingt ans sur le trafic des être humains et l’exploitation sexuelle. Née en Espagne, j’ai travaillé au Japon notamment pour NHK Enterprises puis je suis devenue la correspondante du quotidien espagnol El Mundo à Tokyo puis à Los Angeles. En 1995, j’ai déménagé en Californie et en 2002, Canal + Espagne a fait de mon premier reportage sur le trafic d’enfants dans les Himalayas le film documentaire Tin Girls. J’ai produit et réalisé plusieurs courts-métrages documentaires dont Vendu en Amérique: Un conte moderne de l’esclavage sexuel, et, plus récemment Through The Wall sur une famille séparée par la frontière américano-mexicaine, qui a reçu le prix Imagen en 2016.
Sands of Silence: Waves of Courage est mon premier long-métrage documentaire. Au festival du film de Malaga en 2016, il a reçu le premier prix et la “biznaga de plata” pour sa contribution aux droits des femmes. Actuellement je travaille sur des compléments : “SOS Esclavage” un jeu vidéo à connotation sociale et “SOS Interactive” une série de micro documentaires sur l’exploitation sexuelle et le trafic d’êtres humains.

Sands of Silence: Waves of Courage - English Official Trailer 2:30 min
Le trailer de Sands of Silence: Waves of Courage


Lundi 19 mars 2018  à 20h
au Cinéma Le Luminor- Hôtel de Ville
20 rue du Temple 75004 ParisMétro
Hôtel de Ville
 (3 min à pied) : lignes 1 et 11
Châtelet (6 min à pied) : lignes 1, 4, 7, 11 et 14
Les Halles (8 min à pied) : RER A, B et D.En partenariat avec

#DirectedbyWomen: Breaking the silence on sexual violence

Chelo Alvarez-Stehle: Breaking the silence on sexual violence



Recently #DirectedbyWomen had a chance to delve into conversation with reporter and documentary filmmaker Chelo Alvarez-­Stehle about her moving film Sands of Silence: Waves of Courage and the impact it is having on communities around the world. She also shared the surprising direction her work is leading her to explore next. The topic of sexual abuse and trafficking is challenging. It can feel easier to simply look away, but please take time to receive what Chelo has shared and look for the chance to experience her work. Info about upcoming screenings can be found at the end of the post.

DBW: Your documentary Sands of Silence: Waves of Courage takes on such a powerful subject. It’s multifaceted in its approach, dealing with the nexus of sexual abuse and sexual trafficking. And it takes us deep into the complexities of how these forms of abuse impact not only individuals but families as well.  I’d love to hear your thoughts about how the film is resonating with film audiences and the impact it is having.

CA-S: We’ve felt overwhelmed by the cathartic experiences audiences are having. At every screening people of all ages are going deep into their experiences, bringing past or recent memories, identifying them as abuse, calling them by their name, breaking the silence, so much so that we enlist volunteer therapists or psychologists to attend and be ready at the Q&As with their expertise and resources.

That is why we say that Sands of Silence is “the film that inspires you to break the silence on sexual violence.” Many of those people speak up for the first time.

But after touring Europe and the US with the documentary we know that it also goes beyond that. A college freshman at a university in Spain insisted on talking to me after the screening. She had gone to a physical therapist for a shoulder problem. He convinced her, by showing her information on Google, that he needed to touch a point in her vagina in order to cure her. He ended up inserting a vibrator in her vagina. “Finally something clicked for me and I left. My mother did not believe me, and when she finally did, she went to confront him, but he denied everything. Please help me. Now I have nightmares. I don’t even let my dad approach me. And I want to report him but I don’t know how.” I was able to refer her to an association of women lawyers that provides legal pro bono services to victims.

Often it is those closer to us that don’t believe us.


“Prostitution et Société” magazine, France

“prostitution et société” magazine

Paris, France

avril 2018, par Christine Laouénan

Our first review in French, after our Paris sneak preview on March 19th, hosted by Centre Audiovisuel Simone de Beauvoir, at the Luminor – Hôtel de Ville the historic movie theater in Le Marais, the heart of Paris!

Notre premier article en français, après notre avant-première à Paris le 19 mars, présenté par le Centre Audiovisuel Simone de Beauvoir, au Luminor Hôtel de Ville.

« Lorsque je préparais mon film, les femmes survivantes que j’ai rencontrées se battaient avec une telle énergie contre la traite des êtres humains que j’ai été poussée, à mon tour, à dévoiler ma propre vérité », raconte Chelo Alvarez-Stehle.

Dans ce documentaire qu’elle a mis 15 ans à réaliser, la cinéaste et journaliste espagnole brise le silence autour du trafic sexuel à l’échelle mondiale, mais également autour des abus subis dans sa propre famille. Un silence qui ne profite qu’aux prédateurs et aux trafiquants.