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Sands of Silence: Waves of Courage

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Sands of Silence: Waves of Courage
Sands of Silence.jpg
Official film poster
Directed byChelo Alvarez-Stehle
Produced byChelo Alvarez-Stehle (Producer)
Mark Stehle (Executive Producer)
Deirdre Roney (Executive Producer)
Written byChelo Alvarez-Stehle
Music byJason Martin Castillo
CinematographyVicente Franco
Lara Weithorn
Edited byMarla Ulloa
María Zeiss
Kate Amend
Jean-Philippe Boucicaut
innerLENS Productions
See all credits (IMDB)
Distributed byinnerLENS Productions
Running time
86 min. / 52 min.
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish, Spanish, Nepali

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Sands of Silence: Waves of Courage (2016) is a documentary film that addresses the spectrum of sexual violence, from child sexual abuse and clergy abuse to rape and sex trafficking. It was directed, written and produced by filmmaker Chelo Alvarez-Stehle.


Sands of Silence addresses the interconnections of the full spectrum of sexual violence through its common denominator: silence. The documentary starts with the story of Virginia Isaías, a Mexican woman who had been kidnapped into a trafficking ring in Mexico while breastfeeding Lala, her six-month-old baby. Escaping the traffickers with baby Lala in her arms, Virginia crosses the US border in search of freedom.

Following, the viewer discover the story of Charimaya Tamang (Anu) in Kathmandu, one of the more than 200 Nepalese trafficking survivors rescued from Mumbai’s red light district in a raid organized by the governments of India and Nepal the previous year. After Anu takes her traffickers to jail, she suffers harsh retaliation from the trafficker’s relatives for years.

Both Anu and Virginia spend a decade rebuilding their lives and become advocates against sexual violence. When Lala turns 17, she breaks the silence about the violence that engulfed her childhood.

Inspired by the survivors' courage, the filmmaker sets out for her hometown in Spain, in a parallel journey of introspection that leads her to break the silence about sexual abuse in her family and in her own life.


In July 2017, the film was presented at the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development at the United Nations in New York.[1]

On the occasion of the 2017 International Day for the Elimination of the Violence against Woman, the film was presented at the European Parliament at an event hosted by the Progressive Alliance of Socialist and Democrats (S&D) and PES Women (Party of European Socialist).[2]

The film was broadcast on RTVE Spain’s public television broadcast in 2017.[3]


  • 2018 - Women Struggles and Rights Award. Porto Femme International Film Festival, Portugal.[4]
  • 2017 - Best Documentary Feature. 59th Southern California Journalism Awards - Los Angeles Press Club.[5]
  • 2017 - Best Documentary - Humanitarian. TheWIFTS (Women’s Intl. Film and Television Showcase). West Hollywood, California.[6]
  • 2017 - Best Documentary Nomination. 32nd Imagen Awards, Beverly Hills, California.[7]
  • 2017 - Single finalist. Vicki Bernadet Foundation. Fada Cultural Award. Barcelona, Spain.[8]
  • 2017 - Best International Documentary Honorable Mention. Festival Brasil de Cinema Internacional. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.[9]
  • 2017 - Best Documentary and Golden Iguana. Guayaquil International Film Festival. Ecuador.[10]
  • 2016 - Best Documentary Film. Malibu International Film Festival, California.[11]
  • 2016 - Audience Award. Malibu International Film Festival, California.[12]
  • 2016 - Best Documentary Feature Audience Award. Awareness Film Festival, Los Angeles.[13]
  • 2016 - First Prize and Silver Biznaga (Affirming the Rights of Women). Málaga Film Festival. Spain.[14]


  1. "2017 Calendar of Events". Equality Now. Retrieved December 20, 2019. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  2. "S&D Film Screening: Sands of Silence". Socialists & Democrats. European Parliament, Brussels. November 21, 2017. Retrieved December 20, 2019. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  3. La Noche Temática (November 20, 2017). "Romper el silencio". RTVE (in español). Retrieved December 20, 2019. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  4. "Porto Femme 18′ Winners". Porto Femme. June 4, 2018. Retrieved 2019-12-07. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  5. "59th SoCal Journalism Awards Winners Announced". Los Angeles Press Club. Los Angeles, EEUU. June 25, 2017. Retrieved 2019-12-07. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  6. "Women's International Film & Television Showcase". thewifts.org. Retrieved December 7, 2019. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  7. "Winners of 31st Annual Imagen Awards Announced". Imagen Foundation. Beverly Hills, CA. September 9, 2016. Retrieved December 7, 2019. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  8. "Ganador y Finalista de Premio fada a la Cultura 2017". Fundació Vicki Bernadet (in español). December 1, 2016. Retrieved December 7, 2019. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  9. "Best International Documentary Honorable Mention. List of 4TH FBCI WINNERS". 4th Brazil International Film Festival. Facebook Page. Retrieved January 9, 2020. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  10. "La Familia, película premiada como la mejor en el Festival Internacional de Cine en Guayaquil". El Comercio (Ecuador) (in español). Guayaquil, Ecuador. September 24, 2017. Retrieved December 27, 2019. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  11. Guldimann, Suzanne (November 2, 2016). "Malibu Film Festival to Feature Local Films". The Malibu Times. Retrieved December 21, 2019. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  12. Guldimann, Suzanne (November 2, 2019). "Malibu Film Festival to Feature Local Films". The Malibu Times. Retrieved December 21, 2019. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  13. "Spain Arts & Culture". Women in Film. Los Angeles. Retrieved December 30, 2019. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  14. "Afirmando los derechos de la mujer entrega sus premios en el cine Albéniz". Málaga Film Festival (in español). Málaga, Spain. April 27, 2016. Retrieved December 8, 2019. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)

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