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Maya - Best for Fests

Feature film 1h 44 USA 2023
Maya  written and directed by Julia Verdin is one of Bruno Chatelin Best for Fests curated features and docs.

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Teenage Maya is raised in a household stricken by her father’s abandonment. Her mom, Camila, is an alcoholic, struggling to make ends meet. Camilla’s boyfriend, Diego, is an abuser who takes advantage of both Camila and Maya.

When Maya is followed on social media by an attractive guy named Ray. He responds to her post and seems to genuinely care. Soon Maya begins to chat with him online more about her life and fears. Before long Ray persuades Maya to meet him in person and after a slightly rocky start over him being quite a bit older than his photos, their relationship quickly develops.

Ray takes an interest in her problems and dreams and works hard to make Maya feel special.

When things escalate at home, Ray encourages Maya to run away with him. Initially spoiled by Ray with new outfits, beauty treatments, and art supplies, Maya slowly begins to realize he has another agenda when he starts using her to make money. Ray persuades her to cooperate by holding everything he has done for her over her head and claiming that he loves her. Maya complies and starts being set up for appointments with Ray’s “clients”.

As Ray pimps her out with more clients, Maya finds herself trapped in a sex trafficking ring with no way out. Meanwhile, her mother Camila, falls into despair after losing her daughter. After a near overdose, she agrees to get sober in order to get her daughter back. When Camila gets a call from the police saying that Maya is in their custody, she is overjoyed. However, the trauma that Maya has been through does not make her return as easy as Camila had hoped. Ray is determined not to lose his money-making asset while Camila is intent on not losing her daughter ever again.

Can Camila help Maya get back on her feet, or will Maya be forever lost to the dark world she has fallen prey to?

Profile on I Trailer I  Synopsis I Director's statement I Crew I


MAYA will make its World Premiere at the Raindance Film Festival in London

MAYA will make its WORLD PREMIERE at the @raindancefilmfestival in London!
Maya premieres on October 30, 2023 at 6:00 pm at Vue Piccadilly and will be followed by a Q&A
Please join us if you are in the area !
Per Raindance: “Written, directed and produced by Julia Verdin, Maya is a stark social impact film engaging with the dangers of online grooming and sexual exploitation. Young Maya, whilst doing well both socially and at school, is struggling with her mother’s worsening addictions, and the uneasy presence of her mother’s boyfriend, Diego. Stuck in an environment that feels inescapably futile and loveless, Maya falls victim to the edgy charms of Ray, whom she meets online. When Maya and Ray meet in real life, he is immediately established as her ‘protector’ and the two enjoy a brief honeymoon period – which gradually darkens as Maya is coerced by Ray into the world of organised sex trafficking. Stellar performances from Rumer Willis and Billy Budinich imbue the film’s uneasy subject matter with direct discomfort; it’s too real, too raw, too heartbreaking. Isabella Feliciana and Patricia Velasquez present as a gutwrenchingly heartfelt mother and daughter duo – a continually shifting relationship that is delivered with fierce chemistry. You cannot help but mourn for Maya, and the difficult but necessary dialogue it brings about the all-too-possible dangers of exploitation and the vividly harrowing world of trafficking. Chilling, striking, yet ultimately defiant, Maya will undoubtedly stay with its viewers.”



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