Activist filmmaker will shoot controversial movie about child marriage in Bay Ridge

The picture is about a Yemeni girl who is forced to marry an old man and later raped by members of his family. Filmmaker Christhian Andrews hopes to use it as a teaser to raise money from the United Nations for a longer film on forced marriage and child abuse.


It must have been his lucky day.

A filmmaker who was searching for a young actress to star in a potentially controversial and difficult movie ran into the right person at the right time.

Christhian Andrews was literally walking the streets of Bay Ridge last month, approaching Arabic speakers and asking them whether they had a daughter who wanted to be in a movie.

As fate would have it, the second man Andrews approached was Saeed Alabsi, a restaurant worker who spent years working at ADRA International, an agency operated by the Seventh Day Adventist Church to provide education, development assistance and disaster relief around the world. “We were very lucky,” said Andrews, 24, who is set to begin filming his picture about a Yemeni girl who is forced to marry an old man and later raped by members of his family, next week.

Alabsi said he took an immediate interest in the project and decided he wanted to help. “I’ve seen this with my own eyes,” said Alabsi, 56, who became sensitive about the issue after seeing girls married to men who were sometimes 60 years their senior.

He went home and told his 15-year-old daughter Nadya, who accepted the lead role in the film. “I want people to get educated,” said Nadya, who came to Brooklyn with her family five months ago from Yemen. “I want people to understand that what they’re doing is wrong.”


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