Picture this: a young girl, no older than 10, taking care of her baby brother while her parents scream at each other in the next room. Imagine that girl struggling with homework, only to be smacked across the face by her father when she asks a question. Put yourself in the shoes of that child, being ripped away from the only home she knows because of constant abuse and neglect.
This kind of life is the reality for many of the 400,000 children enrolled in foster care in the United States. In 2013, Nathanael Matanick sought to bring light to this reality through creating the short film “ReMoved.” While going through the process of becoming foster parents, Matanick and his wife created “ReMoved,” built from a desire to know what the experience was like from the foster child’s perspective.
The film follows 10 year-old Zoe through her journey beginning in an abusive home and ending in the foster care system. Zoe struggles with emotional and physical abuse, going to picture day at school with two black eyes courtesy of her father. She is ripped from her home when the police take her father away. She and her brother are transported from home to home, endlessly searching for a new, loving family. Through this process, Zoe endures even more abuse, including being separated from her brother. Eventually, Zoe ends up in a home with a woman who genuinely cares about her. However, Zoe finds opening up to this new life difficult; she resorts to expressing herself in the violent way she had learned from her parents. The film ends with Zoe reuniting with her brother after being delivered to Zoe’s foster home.
Support for the film was overwhelming. Matanick was able to relate to viewers on a huge scale, touching foster parents in similar situations, children who had gone through the system and teachers and friends of those who were once in positions like Zoe. There was a strong demand for a second film. Through a Kickstarter campaign and worldwide support, the “ReMoved” team was able surpass their $120,000 fundraising goal to create part two. Also through Zoe’s perspective, part two introduces a variety of new elements. The story picks up with Zoe in the foster care system dealing with the fact that her brother may be adopted, and the possibility of her being reunited with her birth mother. Through all of these elements, the end goal is to show that there is always more to the story.
“Unseen,” “unheard,” and “unwanted” are three words that no child should ever find themselves saying. Matanick’s goal in creating the “ReMoved” films is to both bring light to how we can help the neglected and abused children in the foster care system, and to prevent these children from being neglected and abused in the first place.
To view Matanick’s short film and learn more about part two, visit https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/heschle/removed-part-two