“Internet predators the focus of local film,”
New short film tackles issue of online predators
In the ubiquitous sight of a teen looking at his or her phone, a dark and dangerous secret might lurk, one that B rockville-raised Kelli Gaut re au wants to make public in her latest short film.
Gautreau, the daughter of locals Ron and Joy Gautreau, who now works as a dance rand choreographer in New York, will screen the premiere of “( Our) Little Secret !” a short choreographed film meant to warn of the dangers of Internet predators, Monday evening at Galaxy Cinemas in Brockville.
The screening begins with a red carpet event at the theatre at 5 p.m., where kids can pose inside a B rockville Police Service cruiser. The screening takes place at 6 p.m.
This is the third in what Gautreau, 34, hopes will be a 12-part series of “dancing PSAs” (public service announcements), short films with a message involving children, all told through choreography.
“The story’s always told through dance and acting,” said Gautreau, adding the medium of dance reaches people but also leaves some things open to interpretation.
When Gautreau landed on her latest topic, she went online and came across Alicia Kozakiewicz, an American woman who, at the age of 13 in January 2002, was the victim of an Internet luring, was abducted to another state and held captive. Kozakiewicz survived the ordeal thanks to what her website calls “a miraculous rescue by the FBI.”
Through “The Alicia Project,” she is now an advocate for Internet safety and awareness.
“She basically guided the whole film,” said Gautreau.
Any proceeds the film makes will go to The Alicia Project, she added.
The six-minute film includes dance performances, filmed in Brockville with 30 local young people, text messages flashing on the screen and K oz akiewicz speaking at the end, the latter meant to reinforce to viewers that the dangers referred to are not fictitious.
Gautreau hopes parents and young people will turn up for the screening of the film, which will then go live on the website of her organization, Dancing4Change.
“I would not have done this without the B rockville police being involved ,” said Gautreau.
Det.-Cst Graham Coe, of the Brockville Police Service’s criminal investigations branch, will hold a question and answer session with the audience after the screening. Other speakers will include Mayor David Henderson, Scott Newark from KINSA (Kids Internet Safety Agency) and Ken Taylor from the International Cyber Protection Agency.
Coe said cases of Internet luring have the potential of crossing international boundaries, but in his experience the perpetrators tend to be local.
The detective wants to use such public awareness occasions to empower young people to use their technology wisely.
“Have a respect that you don’ t know who you’ re talking to at the other end of that computer,” he said.
“They’re a good wake-up call,” he added.
“I’m hoping for a lot of parents in the room.”
While Internet predators have lurked in online chat rooms, they can now be found in multi-player games, such as Fortnite and Minecraft, where they prey upon young players by seeming to befriend them under false p re tens es, beginning by complimenting them on their level of play.
The predators are skilled manipulators, said Coe.
“They will replace whatever is missing in that youth’ s life ,” he said.
“They will find out what you need and they will be what you need.”
Coe recommends the Canadian Centre for Child Protection (www. cybertip.ca) as a resource for the public.
Gautreau, meanwhile, is hoping to do more films with her non-profit venture and would like organizations to come forward with ways her work can help them.
Kelli Gautreau's latest Dancing4Change short firm, (Our) Little Secret!, screens on Monday at Galaxy Cinemas in Brockville.