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Snapshot: Pearl Gluck

by on December 01, 2017 9:13 AM

Pearl Gluck calls herself a filmmaker and a director, but to others she is much more – an impactful leader.

For the last four years, Gluck, a professor in Penn State’s College of Communications, has been working on her feature film called The Turn Out. This film blends documentary and fiction narrative to address the underreported issue of domestic sex trafficking at truck stops.

Just this year, there have been 4,460 human trafficking cases reported. Sex trafficking involves adults and children being coerced to engage in commercial sex acts against their will.

Gluck has met with and heard many stories from activists, survivors, even sex-trafficking offenders.

The film is close to her heart because of the research she has put into it and because she considers herself an activist.

“My hope is that this is just the beginning of a conversation – so many people are out there pounding the pavement as activists and making sure that early signs are being detected and making sure that these things don’t happen,” Gluck says. “I hope that this becomes one of the things that calls attention” to the problem.

Gluck notes that many think that commercial sex and prostitution is a choice made by those who participate – but that is often not the case.

Gluck is taking a look at the extreme lack of opportunity, poverty, and addiction, which is an epidemic and has been for decades.

“For this particular film, there is no actual abuse or crossing of the line on screen. We are looking at the underlying causes and then the effect of it, which some might argue is even more dark,” Gluck says. “Rather, we see choices being made that are so hard to stomach”

Many of those in the film are not trained actors – they are truckers, survivors, and activists who chose to be part of the film because they wanted to add their voices against sex trafficking.

Gluck speaks passionately about the people she had the privilege to work with in making the film happen.

“For me the goal is to show the film and to have a conversation after” Gluck says. “At some point, I couldn’t look away. It’s really hard to avoid the subject, especially now, which I think is good and yet the more awareness we have, the more we discover how huge the issue is.”

Donations from two recent previews of the film at The State Theatre will benefit Survivors Ink and The Freeman Project. Survivors Ink supports trafficking survivors by funding cover-up tattoos to replace slavery brands. Gluck dedicates the film to the organization’s founder, trafficking survivor Jennifer Kepton. The Freeman Project helps to house women in transition.

This film is a call to action.

For more about the film, including future screenings, visit The National Human Trafficking Hotline is available to help victims at 888-363-7888. To learn more about the issue, visit

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