High School Film Competition Official Selections: Shades of Gray & The Gift  

This post is one in a series of posts highlighting our High School Film Competition winners and official selections.  Heartland Institute intern Patrick Mitchell introduces us to each filmmaker and gives a sneak peek of what to expect when these films premiere at the 2011 Heartland Film Festival Friday, October 14.

Shades of Gray – Laura Baker & Samantha DeMaria

As part of Heartland’s 2011 theme of “courage”, the duo of Laura Baker & Samantha DeMaria brought to us their emotional take on undergoing personal tragedy. Entitled Shades of Gray, the film uses color (or lack their of) as a literal representation of the lead girl’s state of being. Her life is physically and emotionally in a perpetual state of gloom, where all she sees and experiences are limitless shades of gray. The film is shot juxtaposing black and white shots with splashes of dispersed color. Due to unexplained reasons, the girl has immersed herself in a world void of color and consequently, happiness. Yet, through a series of seemingly uninspired conversations with a well-meaning boy, the girl eventually finds the courage to break her cycle of despair and live her life in a more positive manner. His positivity radiates color, and as a result of her new found friendship, the girl’s courage is marked by a splash of rejuvenated color as well. Despite being an unaccountable personal tragedy, the film manages to be universally relatable. It’s message of staying positive through inexplicable adversity is something everyone will be able to find strength in.

Laura Baker and Samantha DeMaria, from Carmel, Indiana, graduated from Carmel High School in 2011. In high school they studied IB Film under the direction of Jim Peterson. Laura and Samantha will both be attending Columbia College Chicago this fall.

Laura Baker

Samantha DeMaria

The Gift – Ryan Bowman

In one of the more heart-wrenching selections in the Heartland High School Film Competition, Ryan Bowman submitted to us his film, The Gift. Our 2011 theme of “courage” for this year’s competition was met with a slew of worthy competitors, but none quite as intense as Ryan’s film. As the title would suggest, the film deals with the gift of life and the struggle to choose what’s best for, not only oneself, but for a child who hasn’t been brought into the world yet as well. The plot details that of a young couple who recently find out they will be new parents soon. As part of this joyous occasion comes heartbreaking news as well, as the unborn child is diagnosed with trisomy 21, also known as down syndrome. The couple find themselves at a personal crossroads as they debate the fate of their child. The decision to go through with an abortion or to birth the child weighs heavily on the two young people. I won’t give away the ending, but instead will reveal that the couple ultimately agrees upon a courageous decision. The film is full of heart and moreover brimming with passionate vigor. It’s noble to see a young filmmaker tackling such controversial adult issues with such passion.

Ryan, from Zionsville, IN, attends APU in Los Angeles studying Business/ Film.Ryan participated in film at school and as a Media Intern at Eagle Church. Ryan thanks Heartland for letting him show The Gift at such an honored festival.

Ryan Bowman