The Price of Sex

A film by Mimi Chakarova

US | 2011 | 73 minutes | Color | DVD | English/Russian/Turkish/Bulgarian | Subtitled | Order No. 111028


An unprecedented and compelling inquiry, THE PRICE OF SEX sheds light on the underground criminal network of human trafficking and experiences of trafficked Eastern European women forced into prostitution abroad. Photojournalist Mimi Chakarova’s feature documentary caps years of painstaking, on-the-ground reporting that aired on Frontline (PBS) and 60 Minutes (CBS) and earned her an Emmy nomination, Magnum photo agency’s Inge Morath Award, and a Webby for Internet excellence.

Filming undercover with extraordinary access, even posing as a prostitute to gather her material, Bulgarian-born Chakarova travels from impoverished rural areas in post-Communist Eastern Europe, including her grandmother’s village, to Turkey, Greece, and Dubai. This dangerous investigative journey brings Chakarova face to face with trafficked women willing to trust her and appear on film undisguised. Their harrowing first-person accounts, as well as interviews with traffickers, clients, and anti-trafficking activists, expose the root causes, complex connections, and stark significance of sexual slavery today.


"More than simply bashing patriarchy or capitalism or globalization, Chakarova instead exposes the complexities and corruptions at their intersections, taking care to humanize, rather than exploit, her brave subjects. The poignant stills, gritty undercover footage, and squirm-worthy interviews with those who surround these young women weave together a narrative that pulls few punches but demands viewers' attention. The storytelling and visual composition alone make this film absolutely captivating."

Catherine Orr Women’s and Gender Studies, Beloit College

"Her poignant documentary has given these women a collective voice to expose the nightmare they endured… [the] harrowing film takes an unflinching look at the very real price of sex for these women who have suffered unimaginable pain and suffering."

The Huffington Post

“Fearlessly researched and undeniably urgent…indefatigably follow[s] the harrowing path of human sex trafficking…”

Eddie Cockrell Variety

“It’s a piece made to build awareness and activism. …it is a powerful look into a world that we, as Americans, are not used to seeing.”

Austin Glidden Stereosubversion

“The portraits of the women featured in the film are powerful and heart-rending… Suitable for some mature high school classes and for college courses in cultural anthropology, anthropology of women/gender, anthropology of globalization/neoliberalism, and Eastern European studies, as well as general audiences.”

David Eller Anthropology Review Database

"…the film offers uniquely personal insight into a major criminal enterprise that destroys the lives of countless young women…recommended."

Video Librarian

“Chakarova never makes judgments: She just gives the women a chance to speak about their experiences. The viewer, however, gleans a desire for them to exist outside that industry; to effectively end, not just document, that cycle of abuse.”

Bitch Magazine


  • 2012 American Library Association Notable Videos for Adults List
  • 2011 Nestor Almendros Award for courage in filmmaking, Human Rights Watch Film Festival
  • Winner of the 2011 Daniel Pearl Award for Outstanding International Investigative Reporting
  • Human Rights Watch Film Festival
  • Vancouver International Film Festival
  • Hawaii International Film Festival
  • Chicago International Film Festival
  • Silverdocs Documentary Festival
  • Amnesty International Film Festival
  • Denver International Film Festival
  • St. John's Int'l Women's Film Festival
  • Beloit International Film Festival
  • 2011 Sarasota Film Festival, World Premiere
  • Hamptons Int'l Film Festival
  • US Embassy Ottawa
  • Documentary Edge Film Festival
  • Pravo Ljudski Film Festival
  • Reykjavik Shorts&Docs Festival


Mimi Chakarova

Mimi Chakarova, a Bulgarian-American photojournalist and filmmaker, has covered global issues examining conflict, corruption and the sex trade. Her film "The Price of Sex," a feature-length documentary on trafficking and corruption was awarded the Nestor Almendros Award for courage in filmmaking at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in New York. She was also the winner of the prestigious Daniel Pearl Award for Outstanding International Investigative Reporting and a Dart Awards Finalist for Excellence in Coverage of Trauma. Chakarova continued on to direct, shoot and produce two other feature films, completed by her own production company, A MOMENT IN TIME PRODUCTIONS. "Men: A Love Story" premiered at the renowned Telluride Film Festival in 2016. Chakarova is currently directing "Still I Rise," a documentary series of short films that honors those striving for dignity and justice. Mimi Chakarova is the recipient of the Dorothea Lange Fellowship and the Magnum Photos Inge Morath Award for her documentary work. Other awards include a People's Voice Webby, as well as a nomination for a News & Documentary Emmy Award. Chakarova's work has appeared in National Geographic, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, Ms., The Sunday Times Magazine, London, CBS News' "60 Minutes," CNN World, BBC World, Al Jazeera English, PBS' FRONTLINE/World and the Center for Investigative Reporting among others. (07/19)

Chakarova taught visual storytelling at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism for 14 years. She has also taught at Stanford University's African and African American Studies and Comparative Studies for Race and Ethnicity. (07/19)


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