The shocking stories of American teenagers who were shipped to an American-run Christian reform school in the Dominican Republic.
It's Conform ... or be Conformed
“The afternoon that I arrived at Escuela Caribe, this scrawny 12-year-old was being ‘rebellious’… so they staged this boxing match in front of the students and the dean of the school basically beat the crap out of this boy, and the message of that was clear: either conform or be conformed.” - Julia Scheeres, Author of Jesus Land, a memoir about her and her bother’s time at Escuela Caribe
Stretch Goal - $35,000
We cannot even begin to express our gratitude for everyone who has supported the film so far. Because of YOU we are able to finish the film in time for our premiere at the Slamdance film festival this January!
Our initial goal was the bare minimum we needed to finish the film by January. We wanted to ensure that we could raise the amount absolutely critical to get the film ready for the festival. To make the largest impact possible with this film, we need additional funds to put towards publicity and marketing, a new and improved website, film festival deliverables and fees, music licensing, and color correction - which was not in our original Kickstarter budget.
To say 'thank you' for your additional support, we've added a NEW REWARD - for those who contribute $200 or more, we'll include the sound track to the film.
Together we'll send the message that it's not acceptable to send children away to dangerous behavior modification programs.
“My parents thought they were sending me to a tough boarding school in the Caribbean run by Christians. I still have nightmares about Escuela Caribe about four times a week.” - Edgar Schoenwald Jr. former student at Escuela Caribe and additional editor on Kidnapped For Christ
“I believe every day [at Escuela Caribe] was a violation of my person … I am diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder as a direct result of my experience in the program.” - Lisa Brown, Former Student at Escuela Caribe
“Out of the country = NO US LAWS ... and they take full advantage of it.” - Chris Kam, Former Student at Escuela Caribe
“I remember being scared nearly every moment of every day.” - Bethany Leeuw (Beerhorst), Former Student at Escuela Caribe
“I was abused under the illusion of 'God's love,' and refused the human dignity to disagree … These tales we tell are terrible & horrifying, but they are true.” - Joshua Sierk, Former Student at Escuela Caribe
While in film school, Kate Logan set out to make a documentary about what she had been told was a “Christian therapeutic boarding school” in the Dominican Republic for “troubled” teens from the States. Because of her evangelical background, she was given unprecedented access to film inside this school over the course of a summer. But, as she began to film, she discovered the shocking truth of what was really going on at this remote reform school.
Throughout her time there, she follows the stories of several American teenagers who were taken from their homes and sent away to the Dominican Republic be "fixed" for problems ranging from sexual orientation, to having panic attacks, to drug abuse.
David, a 17-year old from Colorado, was taken in the middle of the night after coming out to his parents, and shipped off to be reprogrammed into a straight, born-again Christian. Tai, a 16-year-old Haitian-American girl from Boston, was sent away after acting out and experimenting with drugs as a result of childhood traumas. Beth, a 15-year old from Michigan, suffered from a debilitating anxiety disorder, and her parents were desperate to help her finish high school.
While in “the program” students were totally isolated, with little to no contact with the outside world, until Kate arrived with her camera. One brave student asked for her help to get free, and the ensuing struggles to secure his freedom revealed just how far this school would go to prevent their students from leaving.
Kidnapped for Christ is directed by Kate S. Logan and produced by Yada Zamora, Kate S. Logan and Paul A. Levin for RedThorn Productions. Executive Producers include Lance Bass (‘NSYNC), Mike C. Manning (Disney’s “Cloud 9”) and Tom DeSanto (“Transformers,” “X-Men”).
Help us finish the film in time for our premiere in January at the Slamdance Film Festival!
Kidnapped For Christ is set to premiere this January at the Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.
Of 5,000 total films submitted, only 8 documentaries were chosen and Kidnapped For Christ was one of them. Help us make sure it’s the best film it can be by the time we premiere in just a month!
Why is this film important?
This film addresses an issue that very few Americans are aware of, but that has impacted the lives of millions of adolescents and families for nearly half a century – the rise of inappropriate and abusive treatment in the troubled teen industry. All over the US and abroad, so-called therapeutic boarding schools, boot camps, and wilderness rehabilitation programs take in teenagers with a wide range of issues and use unsafe and often harmful tactics to reform them. Using political connections, religious affiliations, and substantial amounts of money, many such camps and schools have committed inappropriate and abusive acts behind their guarded walls for decades with impunity.
Few journalists or law enforcement agencies have investigated the considerable number of abuse allegations and even deaths arising from these types of programs. No one has been able to comprehensively document on film what goes on behind closed gates at any of these institutions – until now.
Kidnapped for Christ tells the stories of students who were sent to an institution that resembles countless others around the world, so that these teens may make people aware of the danger these programs pose to our youth.
A few facts:
- Forbes magazine estimates that the "troubled teen" industry is worth over 2 billion dollars.
- Since the 1970s at least 157 American teens have died in behavior modification programs.
- No troubled teen programs are subject to federal regulation, most are not monitored by any government agency.
- It’s completely legal for a parent in the US to hire people to kidnapped their child and take them away to an unregulated institution where many have reported instances of physical, sexual, and physiological abuse.
What we need
This film has been a passion project for everyone on our team, and now we need your passion and support to take us through the home stretch so we'll be ready for Slamdance in a month.
Here's the breakdown of where the money will be spent:
- $5,000 - Sound Mix
- $5,000 - Errors and Omissions insurance (critical for distribution)
- $10,000 - Music composition and recording
- $5,000 - Transfers to HDCam and BluRay (for the festival), up-res to HD, end credits, and other essential post services to get the film ready to screen at Slamdance.
These are really the bare-bones costs we NEED to have before we premiere in January.
Since our last fund-raising campaigns we have been able to complete the remaining interviews and shoots, finish editing the film, and get most of our graphics done. We’re 90% of the way there! Now we need to finish the last 10% of the work on the film so we can bring it to the largest audience possible.
Donate now and you can receive some of our rewards before Christmas!
Looking for a unique holiday present? Instead of braving Black Friday, contribute to Kidnapped For Christ and fight for youth rights and against institutional child abuse!
You could give your friends or family one-of-a-kind gifts like a personal holiday card from the director Kate Logan, a thank-you video from the crew including Lance Bass, dinner with the crew, credit on the film, and even tickets to the premiere.
Donate now! We can only send out cards and videos to those who donate before December 15th. We regret that DVD's and posters will not be available in time for the holidays. Dinners with the crew need to be scheduled 2-4 weeks in advance and will not be deliverable before Christmas.
Other Ways You Can Help
- Even a small donation of $1 or $5 dollars helps us get to our goal and gets our campaign more attention, so no matter how much money you can give it makes a difference!
- Spread the word to all your friends and family and ask them to make a donation of whatever amount makes sense for them.
- Make a list of the blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, Reddit boards, and any other social media outlet you visit regularly and post the link to our Kickstarter and/or trailer, or write them asking the site to cover the film.
- Tweet and Facebook out the Kickstarter link (http://kck.st/1aAE0gT) to your network! You can use the hashtags #slamdance and #kidnappedforchrist for bonus points :)
- Support on Thunderclap, a site where people pledge their social media support. All you have to do is click here: http://thndr.it/1gpQxvZ it's free and it helps spread the word.
- You can go to our website at http://www.kidnappedforchrist.com/#!action and join the fight by writing your representative or senator and telling them to support laws governing and regulating troubled teen camps and organizations.
- Have a product you'd like to donate as a reward for our campaign? Let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org! The more things we have to offer our supporters the better.
- Also, if you are a former student of Escuela Caribe or a similar school or camp, we would love to hear your stories. You can contact us at http://www.kidnappedforchrist.com/#!contact.
Your donation is tax deductible!
Kidnapped For Christ is a fiscally sponsored project of the International Documentary Association (IDA), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Contributions on behalf of Kidnapped For Christ are payable to IDA and are tax deductible less the value of any goods or services received, as allowed by law. The value of goods and services being offered is noted under each donation level. If you would like to deduct the entire donation you have the option to simply decline the reward at check out.
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
We are very close to finishing the film and are confident in our ability to complete it. However, if we don't meet our funding goals we'll have to sacrifice quality and production value in favor of cost-effectiveness.
No matter what, we will premiere our film in January at the Slamdance Film Festival, so you can be assured that there will be a final completed film in 2014. But we NEED your contribution to make the film the best it can be and to do justice to those who were brave enough to share their stories with us.
No, the film is anti-child abuse and anti-unregulated troubled teen programs, but it's not against one religion or set of beliefs. Our team is diverse on many levels and we're proud to have Christians, Jews, Atheists, and everyone in between working together on this project. Because, no religion should be used to abuse children, period. We also recognize that there are hundreds of other abusive troubled teen programs that are not affiliated with any religious group, so this problem is not unique to Christianity or any other religion.
"Kidnapped For Christ" features students who were sent to this particular reform school (called Escuela Caribe) for a variety of reasons ranging from being gay, to drug problems, mental health issues, and even some because they were abused at home. Many students we met at Escuela Caribe hadn't done much beyond not getting along with their parents for whatever reason.
The reality is, Escuela Caribe, and similar programs that operate in the US and abroad, take in teens for ANY reason their parents think of, as long as they can pay tuition. This is an issue that impacts youth all over the country regardless of their sexual orientations. We do hope that our film helps families who might consider sending their child away for being LBGTQ, or any other reason, to reconsider their options.
I am from outside the US, I chose the $30 reward and I only want the digital copy, do I have to pay the shipping charge?
Unfortunately we cannot change the shipping charges at this point as Kickstarter does not allow us to alter the rewards once we go live and people have made their pledges.
However, if you do not want a DVD and are an international donor, simply choose "no reward" and then send us a message indicating that you wish to receive only the digital copy. Sorry for the confusion and inconvenience.
Just write us a message via Kickstarter and ask us to keep your name anonymous.
There are a lot of great resources out there where you can learn about the so-called "Troubled Teen" industry. For more information, we recommend visiting:
Also to ask questions and read discussions from survivors of these types of programs, we recommend
There are many more websites dedicated to specific programs as well, but these sites are a good place to start.
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Personal thank-you e-mail from the crew, plus a public thank-you on Facebook, Twitter, and on our website (unless you wish to remain anonymous). ($10 is tax-deductible)Estimated delivery:
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DVD or a digital download of the film when it's completed (estimated delivery subject to change). ($20 is tax-deductible)Estimated delivery:Add $15 USD to ship outside the US
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DVD signed by the director and a digital download of the film when it’s completed (estimated delivery subject to change). ($40 is tax-deductible)Estimated delivery:Add $15 USD to ship outside the US
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Everything above, plus one 11 x 17 movie poster signed by the director, DVD signed by the director, and a digital download of the film when it’s completed. Donate before December 15th and you’ll receive a personal holiday card signed by the director in time for Christmas (all other rewards estimated March 2014 delivery, subject to change). If you wish to donate as a gift, we’ll send two: one thanking you and one letting your loved one know that a donation as been made in their name. ($80 is tax-deductible)Estimated delivery:Add $15 USD to ship outside the US
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2 posters and 2 DVDs signed by the crew, including Lance Bass and Mike C. Manning. Remember - donate before December 15th you’ll get a holiday card from the crew in time for Christmas (all other rewards estimated March 2014 delivery, subject to change). ($135 is tax-deductible)Estimated delivery:Add $15 USD to ship outside the US
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NEW REWARD! Everything above plus the sound track to the film.Estimated delivery:Add $10 USD to ship outside the US
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2 posters and 2 DVDs signed by the entire crew, including Lance Bass and Mike C. Manning, and a personal thank you video from the crew (including Director Kate Logan, Mike C. Manning and Lance Bass) Remember - donate before December 15th and we’ll send your video and holiday card in time for Christmas (all other rewards estimated March 2014 delivery, subject to change). ($210 is tax-deductible)Estimated delivery:Add $15 USD to ship outside the US
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Everything above plus your name credited under “The filmmakers wish to thank” in the theatrical credits of the film. Remember - donate before December 15th and we’ll send your thank you video and holiday card in time for Christmas (all other rewards estimated March 2014 delivery, subject to change). ($460 is tax-deductible)Estimated delivery:Add $15 USD to ship outside the US
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Everything above plus 2 TICKETS TO THE PREMIERE or another festival screening, as well as invites to any after-parties. Travel and accommodations not included. Also - BE IN THE BEHIND THE SCENES! Get a chance to tells us why you helped contribute to this film and you will be included in our "behind the scenes" segment (if you want). Remember - donate before December 15th and we’ll send your thank you video and holiday card in time for Christmas (all other rewards estimated March 2014 delivery, subject to change). ($930 is tax-deductible)Estimated delivery:Add $15 USD to ship outside the US
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Everything above plus dinner for 2 supporters in Los Angeles with the crew, including Lance Bass. Travel and accommodations not included. Remember - donate before December 15th and we’ll send your thank you video and holiday card in time for Christmas (all other rewards estimated March 2014 delivery, subject to change). ($2,330 is tax-deductible)Estimated delivery:Add $15 USD to ship outside the US
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Everything above, and a “Special Thanks” CREDIT IN THE FILM! and on IMDB, and a private LUNCH OR DINNER WITH THE CREW at the film’s premiere (or other screening of your choice when the crew is in attendance). Remember - donate before December 15th and we’ll send your thank you video and holiday card in time for Christmas (all other rewards estimated March 2014 delivery, subject to change). ($4,730 is tax-deductible)Estimated delivery:Add $15 USD to ship outside the US
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All of the above, plus "ASSOCIATE PRODUCER" CREDIT ON THE FILM and 2 round trip flights to the film’s premiere or screening of your choice, 2 nights hotel stay*, and 2 tickets* to the premiere, and of course all the invites to the after parties you want! (*domestic flights only, total cost up to $2000) Remember - donate before December 15th and We’ll send your thank you video and holiday card in time for Christmas (all other rewards estimated March 2014 delivery, subject to change). ($7,760 is tax-deductible)Estimated delivery:
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