Two Families, Two Lives, One Future.
Juan Carrera is a Cuban immigrant, uneducated. He provides for his son Ali with the money he earns in an underground fight club, sacrificing his body and his dignity. It's the only way he knows how to survive.
Sam Goldberg is a successful attorney. His daughter Sydney becomes friends with Ali.
Sydney and Ali, as children, don't see color, or religion, or economic disparity. Their hopes and dreams are pure, and they enjoy spending time together as friends.
Ali (the boy) has an incurable brain disease. It is terminal. Sydney (the girl) develops a life-threatening heart ailment which will require a transplant. She has an uncommon blood type.
What follows is alternatively painful and also beautiful. The two families are thrust into a new dynamic which teaches them that their differences are superficial. If they work together, they can preserve a human life. One family's tragedy can become another family's salvation.
This is ultimately a film about friendship, tolerance, and sacrifice. It contains elements of hope, faith, and redemption. It strives to present these elements in a seamless manner.
A Gift of the Heart shows us that beneath our surface-level differences, we're not very different at all.
Says Austin St John: "My character (Sam Goldberg) starts out as a bigot. His daughter's condition brings forth a reality he had buried because he thought it was beneath him. He grows, coming full circle, mentally and emotionally. This film touches intelligently on social injustice. It also shows the suffering associated with cancer and other health conditions with a gentle, hopeful touch. This is a film with heart and soul. It will touch you deeply. I'm happy to be involved."
HEALTH, HUMANITY, & HEART
Few things are as important to us as our health. Yet for some reason, our health tends to be something we often take for granted, until ...
And we all know people that have had battles with cancer, and we all lost people to cancer. The writer of this film - Andrew Heller - lost his mom to cancer. Andrew himself, featured performer and Executive Producer Austin St. John, Executive Producer Marie Adler, and young actress Chalet Lizette Brannan have all survived cancer.
Often times when we know people that are in ill health, if they are over a certain age we consider to be "old", we rationalize it as natural. But you can't rationalize much when serious ill health strikes a child. This is a pivotal aspect of A Gift of the Heart. In this film the gift of the heart is not only an apt expression, it is literal. A dying boy gives his heart to save a sick girl in need. And all the prejudices and all the injustice melts away. Everyone grows from the humanity of the gesture. This is what humanity is meant to be and we should never forget that.
Says John Schneider: "My character (Dr. Eli Heller) is a highly competent doctor who is a pragmatist. He is touched by the children in the film, their hope, faith, and innocence. This film uses human tragedy to send an important message to the world.. You will enjoy it, I promise."
MORE ABOUT THE MESSAGE OF THE FILM
People are polarized. The most common is the have's versus the have nots. But there are ethnic and cultural differences, too, as well as the chasm between modern technology and longstanding tradition. A Gift of the Heart mirrors the polarization that has become far too prevalent in the world. But it takes the hate and fear, subjects it to turmoil and tragedy, and the outcome is rescue, followed by humility and faith. The film delivers its message realistically, through characters and story, without preaching.
Ali and his family are Cuban immigrants. They hang onto their pride as best they can while struggling to survive. Sydney and her parents are well-to-do and her father Sam shows disdain for the downtrodden.
The ultimate contrast is between the adults and the children. The children have youth, are full of hope, they don't see color and socioeconomic class. They are un-jaded. When Ali and Sydney each contract a serious illness, they teach the adults all around them the ultimate lesson of togetherness and sacrifice. As people we may have our differences but those with a truthful perspective will come to know that our similarities are way more pronounced. This is an important message of the film.
Says Tim Russ (Director): “This is a timely and - I believe - also a timeless movie that needs to be seen and heard at a time when our world desperately needs to see and feel hope, humility and compassion. To me, it is reminiscent of "It's a Wonderful Life". I am thankful I get to direct such a heart warming tale.”
MEET THE CAST
Austin St. John as Sam Goldberg
You'll remember Austin ( As The Original Red Ranger) from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, and A Walk With Grace.
John Schneider as Dr. Eli Heller
You'll remember John from The Dukes of Hazzard and Smallville
Chalet Lizette Brannan as Adalia
You'll recognize Chalet from Cyborg X, Junkie, and The Sparrows: Nestling
Luis Fernandez-Gill as Juan Carrera; featured in Telenova and TV's Mike and Molly
Eve Mauro as Grace Goldberg; featured in CSI: Miami, Dexter, and Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Isabel Serrano as Dr. Fernando; featured in Love in Difficult Times and Acusados
MEET THE TEAM
Andrew Heller - Writer and Producer
Andrew Heller was born in South Africa, migrated to the US 1983, joined SAG in 1988, worked steadily as an actor, later as a writer, and built a successful video company. He started a construction firm while he raised his three kids, and now that they are grown, he has returned to his passion for the arts. He is a disabled veteran. He is committed to helping families deal with cancer. He seeks to foster hope and a positive spirit of humanity through he uplifting message of his books and films.
Tim Russ - Director
Tim was born to a military family, grew up in a host of places, graduated high school in Turkey. As an actor he appeared in episodes of Melrose Place, Star Trek: Voyager, and many others. He has worked in film and theater. He has directed 15 films and 30 TV episodes. Credits include Bloomers, The Later Show, and episodes of Star Trek: Renegades. He is also an avid singer and songwriter.
Marie Adler - Executive Producer
Marie Adler is the CEO and founder of Adler and Associates Entertainment, the worldwide distributor for A Gift of the Heart. In 2001, with a small team of seven employees and big vision, she took over American Financial Lending and built it into a huge and successful mortgage bank, before turning her attention to Hollywood. The Adler and Associates philosophy includes an emphasis on bridging gaps between cultures, nations, races, languages and religions, and putting great effort into educating the world and killing hatred by using film as our medium. A Gift of the Heart could have no greater ally. She is also a cancer survivor.
Austin St. John - Executive Producer
Austin was born in Roswell, New Mexico. He has practiced martial arts since he was five and now holds a second-degree black belt in Tae-Kwon Do, and a first-degree black belt in Judo. He speaks four languages, being of German, Irish, and Spanish descent. According to a 2004 contest held by ABC Family, Austin's character Jason Lee Scott was voted as the greatest Red Ranger of all time. Austin embraced A Gift of the Heart as soon as he heard its message, and is both a lead performer and an Executive Producer of the film.
Says Andrew Heller, Writer/Producer: "I started conceiving the book on which this film is based in 1992. My mother had just been diagnosed with terminal cancer. My daughter was born only six months before my mom passed away. My mom never got to meet my two sons. When she passed, many unresolved issues between us caused me pain, and I regret that fact, to this day. He death affected me. It is as though I entered a different world and shelved the book and movie for many years. It was only after I suffered injuries in a major motorcycle accident that I regained my perspective, and brought the story back to life. It has since risen to become my mission and purpose. Like so many reading this, I have lost many friends to cancer and have made it part of my mission to be compassionate to those suffering from this terrible affliction. My situation with my mom is embedded in the story of Sam Goldberg who was able to reconcile his past self with a new, more meaningful perspective too. Nothing makes me happier than hearing comments from people who have read the script that liken the film to those of Frank Capra or Preston Sturgess. A Gift of the Heart comes from my heart. My sincere thanks to all who are able to support in any amount or in any way."
ABOUT THE REWARDS
CAN YOU MIX AND MATCH? Yes, you can. If there are Rewards you'd like in a certain combination or quantity that are not offered that way, no problem. But you have to send a message to us. Click the small round photo of Andrew at the top left of the page, and then "CONTACT ME". Glad to work it out.
DELIVERY DATES: The Rewards deliveries show a delivery date which reflects the very outside date for the film's completion; we will fulfill many of the Rewards quite a bit earlier.
MAKING YOUR "CHOICES": All "options" involved in any Reward tier (t-shirt size, for example) will be made AFTER the campaign; Kickstarter has a survey form for these selections, which works quite well.
BUDGET, TIMELINE, & USE OF PROCEEDS
We came to Kickstarter for three reasons: Independence, Community, and Collaboration.
We have been working on this film for some time, and Andrew Heller has lived withe story even longer. We feel it is necessary to remain independent to tell the story truthfully, the way it was meant to be told.
We also want to reach the community that will appreciate the message of the film.
And finally we want to collaborate with other like-minded people, lovers of humanity, equality, respect - things the world seems to struggle with too much these days.
What better place for us than Kickstarter? - Where indie films are welcome and supported, where communities form, thrive, and interact every day, and collaboration ... is a way of life.
If you've got questions, we've got answers. We are pleased to engage and respond. At the top of the page on the left there is a small round photo of Andrew - click that, then click CONTACT ME to send a message.
Risks and challenges
Making a full length feature film is a challenge for anyone, even for a major studio. It is a substantial endeavor, with many moving parts. Independent film producers have to especially be able to roll with the punches.
We have done our best to minimize risk and maximize use of funds without the slightest compromise to the message, the story, and the quality of this film. We’ve completed most of the casting, and created a reasonable budget, plan, and scope of work. It's taken several years to get it to this point, and along the way we've raised and financed the film from private and personal funds, thus reducing what is needed for this campaign.
The funds from KS will allow us to begin full production and depending on the success of the campaign, we will go as far as it takes us. We have secured interested parties to help us post-campaign with color correction, visual effects, sound mixing and other post-production elements that can really make a film special. Andrew is an accomplished editor.
We have a team that has the experience it takes and a passion for filmmaking, and for this subject matter in particular.
In summary, we say with confidence - when the Kickstarter campaign succeeds, the film will be made; and all rewards will be delivered fully and on a timely basis.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (60 days)