The Cantinera Documentary

The Cantinera is a story of a woman who was forced by her mother to drink with men in latin bars when she was thirteen years old. Twenty-three years later, she is still drinking thirty beers a night, five nights a week, but longs for sobriety and a second chance.

In this feature documentary, go first hand into the world of human trafficking through hidden cameras with a few brave women who are dedicated to fighting against the growing criminal industry.

Cantinera Documentary,Dottie Laster,ImaginePublicity

Although there are hundreds of documentaries done on the subject of human trafficking, most use reenactments to visually tell the story of those who are either paying off debt to enter the United States, or groomed by predators. The Cantinera Documentary was filmed using the actual people involved in the exposure of the victims within the cantinas.

We were relentless until we found a girl willing to talk, to open up like never before. Our subject, Liliana had been working for twenty‐three years in the cantina. She was ready and she had a lot to say.

Producer/Director, Ruth Villatoro of Toros Films and her crew went into some of the most dangerous cantinas in Houston, Texas using hidden cameras to document the sordid life of the cantina girls, literally researching while filming. In production for 5 years there were several hurdles to overcome, gaining the trust of the victims as well as some of the clubs in which they worked, as well as finding that there was not much information available on this particular niche of human trafficking, Villatoro saw the opportunity to tell the story to the world on film.

In the months I spent pouring into the research circuits, I was able to find one educational research thesis on the subject. This blew me away. Any other subject search will result in thousands of results; domestic violence, drug addiction, human trafficking, but the subject of cantineras is virtually unknown.

Cantinera Documentary, ImaginePublicity

Traveling through Houston’s cantinas the film captures the dangers involved in the rescue and restoration of trafficking victims by following the works of Dottie Laster and Cat French, two fearless advocates well-known for their efforts to educate and bring awareness to the issue of human trafficking and training law enforcement, agencies and concerned citizens about what they can do to help.

Connect with The Cantinera Online:



CantineraDocumentary from Ruth Villatoro on Vimeo.

Ruth Villatoro on The Roth Show talking about The Cantinera, how and why the film was made.  Listen to the podcast:  CLICK HERE

Ruth Villatoro and Dottie Laster on It’s A Crime Radio with Margaret McLean. Listen to the podcast: CLICK HERE


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