In Conversation with Stephanie Wang-Breal

Stephanie Wang-Breal Award-winning filmmaker, commercial director, and Board Member of The New York Women's Foundation
March 29, 2019 News

Tell us about your new film, Blowin’ Up.

Blowin’ Up is a film about sex work, prostitution and human trafficking told through the lens of the criminal justice system. The film is centered around our nation’s first Human Trafficking Intervention Court in Queens, New York, led by the Honorable Toko Serita and a group of female prosecutors, public defenders and social workers. The women coming through this court are mostly undocumented Asian women, Black and Latina women and transgender women.

Why did you want to make this film?

The first time I walked into this courtroom, I was immediately taken by how many women occupied this space. When we think of our nation’s criminal justice system, rarely do we think about it as a room full of women. This courtroom—from the Judge to the prosecutor to practically all the defendants and the social workers—have gathered here because they are challenging our notions and dilemmas regarding prostitution and sex work. I wanted to make this film, to show that this is an imperfect solution but it is one full of empathy, compassion and hope.

From your perspective, what is the role of film in activism? Do you consider Blowin’ Up to be a piece of political art?

As a Chinese-American female filmmaker, my work is often viewed as coming from a feminist political perspective. However, I never intended to create works of political art. Rather, with each work, my intention has been to create a window into the institutions, families and systems that surround each and every one of us so that we can visibly experience the humanity at the core of each of these institutions. I believe art and, specifically, the language of cinema, has the incredible power to transform and shift people’s ideas /or viewpoints, which then allows them the space to breathe in and discover a whole new place, ideas and group of people.

Thank you, Stephanie, for joining us.

Thank you for having me!

Blowin’ Up premiered at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival to critical acclaim, praised for its sensitive and immersive approach to the difficult realities of women in sex work. The film will open in NYC at the Quad Cinemas starting April 5th to the 11th and LA April 12th to the 18th. Stephanie and special guests will be at select screenings to host talk-back session around the film.  To purchase tickets and to learn more visit

 Stephanie Wang-Breal is an award-winning filmmaker and commercial director. Blowin’ Up is Stephanie’s third feature film. Her first film, Wo Ai Ni Mommy (I Love You Mommy), premiered at the 2011 AFI/ Discovery Silverdocs Festival, was nominated for an Emmy® and is the recipient of three Grand Jury Best Documentary Awards. Stephanie’s second film, TOUGH LOVE, premiered at the 2014 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. The film premiered on PBS’ POV in July 2015 and went on to win the 2016 Silver Gavel Award for Best Documentary from the American Bar Association. Stephanie sits on the Board of Directors of The New York Women’s Foundation and resides in Brooklyn, New York with her son & daughter.


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