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Gillian Anderson and David Arquette on Their Emotional Movie about Sex Trafficking

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James Dimmock/NBC; Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

When Gillian Anderson signed on to be part of the upcoming film Sold about the human rights issue of sex trafficking, she quickly realized the role would mean more to her than most.

“It really wasn’t saying yes to the role,” Anderson tells PEOPLE. “It was saying yes to being a part of the global conversation, saying yes to being an activist in this movement against trafficking to help get people educated.”

The film, based on the best-selling novel by Patricia McCormick, tells the harrowing story of a young girl who risks her life in a desperate attempt for freedom after being sold and trafficked from her village to a brothel in India.

The actress notes that while the film focuses on the story of one girl, she hopes it will help open people’s eyes to a larger global issue and motivate change.

“The film itself is just a vehicle because the movement the film is stirring up is the most vital part of it,” she explains. “People are just simply not aware of just how prevalent it is. It’s estimated that 1.8 million children are trafficked each year. This is something we can’t ignore.”

Anderson’s costar, David Arquette, expresses a similar sentiment, calling Sold, “the most important film I’ve ever been a part of.”

“The message just goes so far beyond what’s on screen,” he tells PEOPLE. “People don’t want to talk about things like this until it’s out there, so we did just that – we put it out there.”

Both Anderson and Arquette are helping spread the word about the film through a newly launched campaign that helps raise funds to get Sold shown across the world. Along with screening the film, the money raised will support the film’s outreach campaign, TaughtNotTrafficked, which helps find solutions in order to prevent trafficking in high-risk areas.

Sold, directed by Jeffrey D. Brown, is currently playing in New York City and will open Friday in Los Angeles. Go to soldthemovie.com for more information.