California couple Nathanael and Christina Matanick hope to increase awareness of foster care system dynamics through the powerful impact of storytelling through video. Their first film on the subject, ReMoved, did just that—being swiftly adopted by agencies throughout the country and world as part of the core training curriculum for new foster parents. Several months after ReMoved’s viral spread online, the Matanicks have visited the drawing table again, drafting together another powerful story that chronicles the faceted dimensions of the foster care system—all through the eyes of the child in care.
A Little Background
It was while Nathanael and Christina Matanick were in foster parent training for their own personal family journey that they became so inspired by their social worker trainer, Chris Poynter with Arrow Child & Family Ministries, that they decided to make a short film exploring the emotional journey of foster care through a child’s eyes. Their thirteen minute film, ReMoved, has the feel of a music video—a story you enter into emotionally—and can’t stop watching until the very last scene (which is worth getting to!).
Foster care affects over 400,000 children in the United States per year, and the average length of time a child spends in the system is 22 months. Some kids’ stays are shorter, some longer. But for all, it is a tumultuous time, with the trauma of entering the system sometimes being worse than the trauma of their birth home experience. By revealing the emotional journey of a child experiencing this trauma, the short film ReMoved has helped countless adults working with these children to understand and to empathize with the seemingly erratic behaviors of traumatized children.
Non-profit organizations have embraced the film, claiming its effectiveness at communicating through the power of visual storytelling what mere words fail to express.
And with the current Kickstarter campaign for ReMoved Part Two, the creative storytellers on the ReMoved team are excited to venture again into the murky waters of child welfare services and the foster care system as a whole, exploring the interconnectedness of all the players in shaping the future of childrens’ lives. Part Two will look at how the social workers, birth parents, foster parents, and teachers all intersect in impacting the child, for better or for worse.
After winning multiple awards at several film festivals, the filmmakers decided to put their poignant film online for free, in the hopes that it could be useful for foster care agencies and similar organizations in their training and recruiting endeavors. The Matanicks’ goal was that the film would inspire loving adults to consider foster care through the eyes of the child, and to step up to the challenge of loving the nation’s most vulnerable children.
The film went viral, rapidly accelerating to over 3 million online views. In response to the demand, the Matanicks made the film available for agencies to download for training purposes. Over three hundred agencies have downloaded the short, and even more have incorporated the heart-felt film into their training program. By taking their hands off possession of the film, ReMoved has gone on to impact far more people than the Matanicks ever thought possible.
As a result of the film and non-profit agencies’ use of it, countless individuals and families have begun to consider and commit to becoming foster parents, court-appointed special advocates (CASA), and social workers. In addition, hundreds of foster alum have reached out and communicated their resonance with the film, expressing how amazing it was to feel as though another person articulated their own thoughts and emotions, and the sense of solidarity and community they found in that.
Because of the outpouring of response and demand for more content, the filmmakers have decided to make Part Two of the story, and their strategy for raising the budget is through Kickstarter’s online crowd-funding platform. With incentivizing rewards, the goal of the campaign is to fund ReMoved Part Two, which will explore new dimensions of the foster care story they began, proving useful yet again for training and recruiting loving families to journey with children through their very difficult circumstances.