Private Project

The Turn Out

A trucker inadvertently gets drawn into the travails of a teenager who is being sex trafficked at his local truckstop.

In a small town in Southern Appalachia, a trucker must decide if he will stand up and take action against sex trafficking at his truckstop. 'The Turn Out' melds the testimony and talents of sex trafficking survivors, anti-trafficking activists, and truckers with the work of film professionals to create a tapestry of moral dilemma and personal connection in the local landscape of Glouster, Ohio, Athens County, and Mineral Wells, West Virginia.

Best Debut Feature - Female Eye Film Festival
Critics Choice Award - Iowa Independent Film Festival
Best Experimental Feature - Cutting Edge Film Festival
Best Original Song - American Tracks Award

"I’m still thinking about the amazing performances you got from your actors."
- Tony Buba, Braddock Films

"My grandmother was sold at a local truck stop from the time she was 12 until she turned 18 and became an adult … your movie hit me hard. It was as if I was watching my grandmother on that screen.”
- Jessica Graham, Survivor's Ink

  • Pearl Gluck
    Divan (2004), Williamsburg (2007), Where Is Joel Baum (2012), Junior (2017), Summer (2018)
  • Pearl Gluck
  • Pearl Gluck
  • Annabelle Sinclair
  • James Gagne, Jr.
    Key Cast
  • Regina Westerviller
    Key Cast
  • Barbara Freeman
    Key Cast
  • Katie Stottlemire
    Key Cast
    Tragedy Girls (2017), My Friend Dalmer (2017), The Street Where We Live (2017)
  • Christopher Mele
    Key Cast
    Fences (2016), My Friend Dalmer (2017), Marshall (2017), Escape at Dannemora (2018)
  • Marlo Tinkham
    Key Cast
  • Heather Caldwell
    Key Cast
  • Luzer Twersky
    Key Cast
    Where Is Joel Baum (2012), Felix and Meira (2016), One of Us (2017)
  • Andre Gribou
    Key Cast
  • Kristan Sprague
    Mulignans (2015), Manos Sucias (2014), Newlyweeds (2013)
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 20 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    December 1, 2017
  • Production Budget:
    200,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Columbus International Film & Animation Festival
    Columbus OH
    United States
    March 23, 2018
    World Premiere
  • Athens International Film & Video Festival
    Athens, OH
    United States
    April 11, 2018
    In Competition
  • American Tracks Music Award

    Best Original Song for a Film
  • Female Eye Film Festival
    Toronto, Ontario
    June 27, 2018
    Canadian Premiere
    WINNER: BEST DEBUT FEATURE; Nominated for Best in Show, Best Feature, Best Debut Feature
  • Iowa Independent Film Festival
    Mason City, Clear Lake, Iowa
    United States
    August 24, 2018
    WINNER: Critic's Choice Award
  • Heartland International Film Festival
    United States
    October 12, 2018
  • Portland Film Festival
    United States
    October 27, 2018
  • Ojai Film Festival
    United States
    November 3, 2018
  • Yonkers International Film Festival
    New York
    United States
    November 10, 2018
  • Social Justice Film Festival
    United States
    October 14, 2018
  • Cutting Edge Film Festival

    United States
    November 3, 2018
    Best Experimental Feature
Director Biography - Pearl Gluck

Pearl Gluck’s work has been part of the Sundance Lab, and played at the Cannes Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, and PBS. "The Turn Out" is her first hybrid feature film and won the BEST DEBUT FEATURE at the 16th annual Female Eye Film Festival in Toronto. Her first documentary feature film, Divan (2004) was a Sundance Institute project, opened theatrically at Film Forum in NYC, was broadcast on the Sundance Channel, and played across the country and internationally at festivals. Pearl’s first narrative short, Where Is Joel Baum (2012), won prizes such as Best Actor at the Starz Denver Film Festival and Best Film at the Toronto Female Eye Film Festival. The Turn Out is her first fiction narrative endeavor. Her short film, Junior (2017), deals with racially motivated police violence through the story of one mother struggling with a new normal after her son was shot by an off-duty police officer. The film has won awards at numerous festivals including the International Black Film Festival of Nashville and BronzeLens in Atlanta. She continues to make both documentary and narrative films that explore themes of class, gender, and faith. Pearl teaches Screenwriting and Directing at Penn State University and is currently developing a documentary project based on her research for The Turn Out exploring specialty courts that offer an alternative, treatment-oriented approach for victims of sex trafficking.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

In 2017, 4,687 calls were made to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. According to Truckers Against Trafficking, 1,980 calls were made by truckers. Almost half (48.5%) of the cases reported by truckers involved minors.

While I was teaching at The Ohio University School of Film, in September 2013, two arrests were made in Athens, Ohio (where I was living at the time) in a domestic sex trafficking case: a young girl was being trafficked by her father’s girlfriend in exchange for drugs and money. Eleven years prior, in 2002, a trucker parked at a travel center in Detroit made a phone call to report his suspicions of two girls being trafficked at his truckstop, and saved the lives of two young girls who were kidnapped from Toledo, Ohio.

Based initially on these two stories and the research I conducted in Ohio when I was teaching at Ohio University’s School of Film, I wrote The Turn Out in 2014. This film raises questions of women’s agency and victimization and counters the misconception that trafficking predominantly involves girls and women who come from outside the United States. It also examines the underlying causes of trafficking (i.e., poverty and addiction, among others) This film examines how a majority of the women committing a “crime” of solicitation are actually being forced into it.

Set in Southern Appalachia, the film examines domestic trafficking at truckstops in rural America through the story of a trucker named Crowbar who comes to the excruciating realization that he has become an active part of a sex trafficking ring when he engages with an underage victim. The fictionalized version the trucker is a less-than-heroic everyman who engages in the sex trade. To him, a quick inexpensive rendezvous with a prostitute is an innocuous respite.

To inform the narrative, I interviewed survivors of trafficking, truckers, truckstop owners and legislators and incorporated their voices into the narrative. The documentary elements of the film also informed the casting: a trucker plays Crowbar; a survivor of 25 years of being trafficked on the streets of Columbus, OH, is the advocate who works with the underage victim, Neveah (“Heaven spelled backwards”) is played by a young woman who, herself, was subjected to child endangerment due to the crisis of drug addiction in Glouster, one of the five poorest counties in Ohio; Jack Wright, co-founder of Appalshop, tells the story of the Wipple Company Store in Fayette county on early signs of trafficking in the region which concludes the film; staying true to the regionality of the issue, the film is set at the aging Liberty Truck Stop in West Virginia, and its owner/manager plays herself in the film.

As an additional note on the storytelling, my grandmother, a survivor of Auschwitz, often said to me: “I don’t know why they keep making those films on the Holocaust, killing us over and over on screen.” I took her sentiments to heart and for this reason, I decided not to show scenes of sexual abuse in The Turn Out on screen.