BLOWIN’ UP – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

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When you leave a pimp, it’s called ‘blowin up,’” says a woman in this extraordinary documentary, who is trying to do just that. She is getting help with this — a task, she says, that is not only difficult, for many reasons of which financial necessity is but one, but also dangerous — from the Human Trafficking Intervention Court in the New York City borough of Queens. Here, judge Toko Serita has no interest in sending to prison any of the women who appear before her, women who have been arrested on prostitution charges who range from desperate locals with limited opportunities who see little choice but a life on the streets to undocumented immigrants who have been trafficked into the US and forced into sex work. (The judge is also not interested in getting anyone deported.) Instead, Serita ensures that the women, some of whom are quite young, receive counseling, help into school or jobs, and gentle pushes onto a more positive track for their lives, via organization such as Girls Education & Mentoring Services (GEMS) and others, representatives of which are always on hand in the courtroom to advocate for these defendants. Continue reading…

EDITOR’S NOTE: Blowin’ Up is AWFJ’s Movie of the Week for April 5, 2019

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MaryAnn Johanson

MaryAnn Johanson is a freelance writer on film, TV, DVD, and pop culture from New York City and now based in London. She is the webmaster and sole critic at, which debuted in 1997 and is now one of the most popular, most respected, and longest-running movie-related sites on the Internet. Her film reviews also appear in a variety of alternative-weekly newspapers across the U.S. Johanson is one of only a few film critics who is a member of The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (the Webby organization), an invitation-only, 500-member body of leading Web experts, business figures, luminaries, visionaries and creative celebrities. She is also a member of the Online Film Critics Society. She has appeared as a cultural commentator on BBC Radio, LBC-London, and on local radio programs across North America, and she served as a judge at the first Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Film Festival at the 2003 I-Con, the largest SF convention on the East Coast. She is the author of The Totally Geeky Guide to The Princess Bride, and is an award-winning screenwriter. Read Johanson's recent articles below. For her archive, type "MaryAnn Johanson" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).