Snow White (aka Lilet Never Happened)

// 14th of May, 2011

Dutch Production house Springfilm and UK producer Film and Music Entertainment announce end of shooting their Manila-shot fiction feature Snow White (aka Lilet Never Happened). Internationally known Dutch Star Johanna Ter Steege joins all local cast. Post production to take place in the Netherlands and Norway. Campaigning organisations Salinlah, Pinay Sa Holland, Small Voices for Change: An International Campaign to STOP Child Prostitution and Gabriela join the project as campaign partners.

Dutch director Jacco Groen’s feature film Snow White (aka Lilet Never Happened) a powerful, realistic and emotional look at the dark underbelly of child prostitution in the Philippine capital Manila has just wrapped today after a three month shooting period with Dutch actress Johanna Ter Steege joining the cast to play the role of Claire, an aid worker with Manila streetkid sex workers.

The drama script is based on the real life story of a child prostitute in Manila who, having reached the end of her possibilities, attempts suicide as a desperate way out of her terrible life. Her story is very much the story of the more than one million other children working in the global commercial sex trade today.

"Snow White is the story of how a young girl, struggling to survive in the streets of Manila, spirals down into child prostitution." Says director Groen, best known for his hard hitting social documentaries, "She is a fighter. She is a dreamer. She is a rebel and she thinks she can handle the world with her wits. But she has to face up to reality when she runs out of innocent dreams."

In 1998, Jacco Groen visited the Philippines to research a documentary. There, he met the real life Lilet in a psychiatric institution. Lilet is a child prostitute. Because she is part Western-part Filipina, she is a very popular child prostitute amongst Western pedophiles. Lilet tells Jacco that she has tried to commit suicide: "Everyone is only interested in my body and no one is interested in me as a person". Later on, when Jacco tries to contact Lilet again, she is nowhere to be found. Lost without a trace. Deeply moved by Lilet’s story, Jacco decides to write a script for a feature film called "Lilet Never Happened". With the film he wants to raise awareness for the problem of child prostitution and the crime that comes with it.

In the tradition of Jodie Foster (Taxi Driver) and Brooke Shields (Pretty Baby), Lilet is bravely played by the very young Philippina actress Sandy Talag best known for her roles in Philippino movies Bahay kubo: A pinoy mano po! and Seance . Noted Philiippino actor and singer John Arcilla plays the role of James, the role of Alice is played by Marife Necessito, Berlin Golden Bear winner. Other cast includes Dorothea Marabut, Antoinette Garcia, and Angel Charlotte Necessito.

"Around the world, every year, more than 1.8 million children are victims of sexual exploitation." Says UK producer Mike Downey, " Different factors contribute to this: poverty, political situation, cultural aspects, war and tourism. Over all there has been a recent upswing increase in sex tourism, which results in a steep rise in the demand for underaged prostitutes. Because of the worldwide financial crisis, even more children from poor homes run the risk of being sexually exploited for commercial goals. Snow White’s aim is to draw attention to this problem."

Behind the camera are Belgian cinematographer Danny Elsen, known for his camera work on The Alzheimer Affair (2003), Loft (2008), Bluthochzeit (AKA The Wedding Party, 2005) and many more successful international feature films. He and Jacco Groen are no strangers to collaboration having teamed up on a number of projects.

The Dutch National Committee for International Cooperation and Sustainable Development (NCDO) and the Dutch Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment are amongst the film’s financiers, along with Springfilm Foundation, Filmmore, Witsenburg Natural Products are all participating in the finance. The producers and director are concerned that as well as making a good film - that the film will have a wider impact. That's why - right from the get go - they have been actively seeking the involvement of Philippino and global NGO's. In order for them to use the film and the publicity it generates in bringing about the desired, and much needed political action to stop this horrific form of abuse.

"When I first read the screenplay of Snow White, and then looked at the test shoot," says prolific UK producer Mike Downey, "I was blown away by the depth of authenticity of Jacco’s narrative voice as well as the unbelievable performance of the child actress who plays Lilet. Her incarnation of this mere child, forced into utter degradation by virtue of the place and class she is born into was one of the most moving things I have ever seen on film. Now that we have shot the film - these things I still hold to be true."

Salinlahi and Pinay Sa Holland are campaign partners of Springfilm in the Philippines. They will synchronize their campaigns with the showing of the film. The campaigns will specifically focus on the problem of child prostitution. Salinlahi (child interests) is an in the Philippines active organisation that already for many years is committed to support the interests of children. Its aim is for a society win which each child has the right to develop itself in a safe environment and in the best possible way.

Pinay sa Holland is an organisation run by Filipino women in the Netherlands that is committed to improve the position of women worldwide. They support the campaign to fight the worldwide problem of child prostitution and they want to use the film to raise extra awareness for this.

An estimated 35,000 Dutch sex tourists travel annually. Approximately 15% (5,200) of them abuse young children. Since 2002 child sex tourism is considered illegal according to the Dutch law and laws in 35 other countries. Therefore, in the Netherlands, sex with children under 16 years of age is punishable, even when the sexual activities take place in foreign countries. Since the introduction of the new law, four Dutch nationals have been convicted for abuse of under aged children. This means that more than 5,000 Dutch criminals stay unpunished.

For Further Information
Please contact:

Ed Rigg at Film and Music Entertainment (34 Foubert’s Place, London W1
Tel: + 44 7762123300,

Jamillah van der Hulst at Springfilm (Jan Tooropstraat 29, studio 3.01, 1062 KB Amsterdam; tel.: +31-6-24628554,