Not My Life

Hazaribagh, Toxic Leather image

(32 min) Ghana/Nepal/Romania/Uganda/USA

Director/Producer: Robert Bilheimer


Not My Life is the first documentary film to depict the horrifying and dangerous practices of human trafficking and modern slavery on a global scale. Filmed on five continents over a period of four years, Not My Life unflinchingly, but with enormous dignity and compassion, depicts the unspeakable practices of a multi-billion dollar global industry whose profits, as the film’s narration says, “are built on the backs and in the beds of our planet's youth.” While acknowledging that trafficking and slavery are universal crimes, affecting millions of human beings all over the world, Not My Life zeroes in on the fact that the vast majority of trafficking and slavery victims are indeed children. This fundamental truth, says the film’s director, Academy Award-nominee Robert Bilheimer, raises profound questions about the very nature of our civilization. “What kind of society cannibalizes its own children?” Bilheimer asks. “Can we do these sorts of things on such a large scale and still call ourselves human in any meaningful sense of the term?” Not My Life features dignified and inspiring testimonies from survivors; depictions of trafficking, exploitation, and slavery in all parts of the world, including forced labor in Africa; street begging and garbage picking in India; sexual trafficking in the US and Southeast Asia; and various forms of child enslavement and abuse in both North and South America.


Robert Bilheimer, president of Worldwide Documentaries, Inc., is a director, writer, and producer with an international background in film, theatre, journalism, and creative writing. Robert's films focus on subjects of cultural, social, and humanitarian interest. In 1989, he received his profession’s highest honor: an Academy Award nomination for Cry of Reason, a feature-length documentary that tells the story of South African anti-apartheid leader Beyers Naude. Shortly after his Oscar nomination, Robert Bilheimer directed and produced I'm Still Here, a film about schizophrenia and serious mental illness, and a film adaptation of Samuel Beckett's Endgame, adapted by the author, for the Smithsonian Institute's Visual Press. From 1986 to 1988 he was a resident scholar at the Anson Phelps-Stokes Institute for Black American and Native American Studies in New York City. Robert has also taught, lectured, or spoken at distinguished academic institutions around the world, including the Eastman School of Music and the John F. Kennedy School of Government.