Dark Highway


Thursday, February 29
Baby Grand
7:00 pm
Sunday, March 3
Baby Grand
4:00 pm

Directed and co-produced by Kingston’s Anna Jane Edmonds, this impactful documentary uses first-hand accounts of survivors, community organizers and others to convey the nightmarish reality faced by many women and children along Ontario’s busy corridors. As Edmonds reveals via the film’s effectively deployed array of interviews, the 401 is not just the busiest highway in North America but a seldom-acknowledged pipeline for human traffickers. The highly mobile nature of this shadow economy makes it even more difficult to combat the problem and provide support and care to the people it affects. But by highlighting these issues and challenges, Edmonds provides viewers with a pathway toward a more hopeful future too.

Director: Anna Jane Edmonds

Language: English

Runtime: 63 minutes

Content advisory: themes of human trafficking, abuse; mature themes

Anna Jane (AJ) Edmonds, director

Anna Jane (AJ) Edmonds is producer, director, actor, and creator working in Toronto and Los Angeles. With a focus on stories with an edge, she has a keen interest and insight into lives lived and is always looking to communicate these experiences with her own touch and finesse. AJ has over 15 years of experience in the entertainment, film and commercial industry. She is credited as a Producer and Associate Producer on features such as THE DROWNSMAN, THE HERETICS, SCARECROWS and the Best Canadian Feature award winning film POOR AGNES. She has produced over 70+ commercials and short films, in which a number of them she was a supporting or lead actor.

AJ’s foray into the directing and documentary space started in 2016 when she was invited to GSG College in Umarkhed, India. While there, and through the voices of alumni, she completed a short documentary about this university’s journey into offering the inaugural general arts and sciences degree program to young adults in this rural region of central India. More recently she worked with the National Space Society to create a documentary and series of short videos about its “SPUN” (space policy and universalization) debates. Through the lens of asking ‘how do I buy chocolate in space’ she explores the lack of conversation about the ownership of space and the urgency to address the need for inclusive governance as space and the competition for natural resources and presence in space emerges as a next and formidable frontier, in which control of space has huge implications for life back on Earth. Other engagements, include designing a pilot documentary series entitled “Frontiers” which further explores the frontiers of new spaces and directing a narrative short film about dementia that was featured on the CBC Short Film broadcast. 

Anna Jane thrives on exploring and sharing stories that need to be told; she is also a keen supporter of anyone who seeks to leave a positive impact on the world!

Gina Simone, producer/editor

Known for her ability to turn around projects, Gina Simone’s work spans across film, commercial and tv production as well as documentary storytelling.

As a member of the DGC, her work as a producer, director, and editor has ventured from features to shorts with screenings held at festivals all around the globe. Gina’s narrative film experience allows her to bring immersive storytelling to music videos and commercials alike. She has vast knowledge of the technical aspects needed on set to fulfill the overall vision. Gina’s editing background gives her a distinct advantage in creating strong visuals that fit seamlessly into a final export. 

Gina is a proud dual citizen of Canada and Malta and is passionate about uniting the globe with stories that resonate. In 2019 Gina produced and edited a Bell Media and Harold Greenberg shorts to features program short film, an Indigenous Nuu-Chah-Nulth story filmed in Tofino BC which premiered at Vancouver International Film Festival.

In 2020, Gina Simone and a small team of four released an online film school called Pocket Film School and in 2021 she attended Banff as a Diversity of Voice and Spark Accelerator participant! Most recently, Gina has directed several music videos, an Interac spot, and a full series of Subaru Customer Stories. Gina is also in post-production for a short she directed in Catania, Sicily. 

Kelly Tallon Franklin, Founder of Courage for Freedom | Survivor Experiential Leader | ISTAC OSCE/OOIDHR Cohort | IFBW UN SC Human Rights

Kelly Tallon Franklin is an award-winning speaker and advocate on the issues of human rights, justice, human trafficking, sexual exploitation, gender based-violence and equine trauma therapies. As Chief Executive Director and visionary Founder of Courage for Freedom, she has a personal story of overcoming violence, drugs, and incarceration suffering coercion, exploitation stripped of dignity and hope. She fought resiliently out of childhood sexual abuse, gender-based violence, and survived sex and labor trafficking. Fierce and tireless Kelly found the strength to launch an incorporated registered charity in 2007 and developed coalitions and task force teams while remaining connected to front-line support needs to stay relevant and leading. Focused on community work in all regions of the globe, she offers training, education, awareness, and care to women, girls, and their families utilizing her intel and procedural knowledge of how advancing the rule of law demanding governmental will require intelligent focused actionable advocacy.  She is an ISTAC Cohort- OSCE/ODIHR and IFBPW UN Standing Committee in Human Rights Co-Chair.

With best-selling book(s), accolades, and high demand from global speaking invitations, she offers accurate information to focus concerns and solutions in interested communities. She is a team leader and mentor developer.

Matt Richardson, Anti-Human Trafficking Intelligence Initiative

Matt Richardson is the Director of Intelligence and Investigations with the Anti-Human Trafficking Intelligence Initiative (ATII). He is international speaker and expert on “Open Source Intelligence” (OSINT) and Darkweb Intelligence with extensive experience in leading and coordinating complex investigations on sex trafficking and CSAM offenders. Matt co-authored a study titled “Expert Analysis of Open Source Material Relating To Child Sexual Abuse Material And Sex Trafficking Occurring On OnlyFans.com” with the University of New Haven Center for Forensic Investigations of Trafficking in Persons. Matt is a member of the Rogers Communications Cybersecurity Catalyst team where he collaborates with industry experts to generate products and education on a variety of cybersecurity topics related to online crimes. He is often sought out as a subject matter expert by the media with TV, Film, Radio, with international media coverage in Canada. He is a writing contributor and on camera character for “Dark Highway”, a Human Trafficking documentary that is being televised in Canada and the U.S and has been featured on CBC’s award winning investigative show “The Fifth Estate”. He works in partnership with Timea’s Cause to educate and prevent sex trafficking and was a featured speaker of the 1st Canadian National Summit on Child Sexual Exploitation. Matt is passionate in his role with theATII where as part of a team of experts he uses his skills on a daily basis to help make children, families, and communities safer places.

Jessica Desmond, anti-trafficking advocate

Aki’Kwe Jessica Desmond Solomon/Wabanong Nimbi Kwe, is from the Robinson Huron Treaty. As a child, she grew up around gangs and drugs and was incarcerated at a young age. While incarcerated, she found a connection in a friend who told her about someone who could help her when she got out. Jessica connected with the man in Toronto, thus beginning an ordeal of being trafficked, and being subjected to violence that would last years. Now Jessica is a leading anti-trafficking advocate who shares her story to help others know they are not alone, and there is a way out. Jessica also educates the public on trafficking and is sparking conversation across the country. 



Victim Services of Kingston & Frontenac