Short Film Spotlight: ReMoved Part 1 – Foster Care

There are films about the realities of life – kitchen sink, social realism dramas – and then there are those made to provoke emotions for you on a subject too tough to bear, yet forces to watch because it seems real.

What makes Removed so painful is that, for a grueling 13 minutes, you are forced to see the agony of a child who goes from biological household to foster home and bounce around, as if the child were slacker who slept on couches. That child, Zoe, starts off with a line that sets the painful tone: “Sometimes, someone hurts you so bad, it stops hurting at all.” The pain inflicted on her is now onto us, as she has been desensitized by the abuse.

As time goes on, however, Zoe’s story doesn’t seem completely homeless, even when going home-to-home. The director, Nathanael Matanick, makes it flow from scene-to-scene without issue to make a point about the 400,000 foster children in the United States who stay in foster care for 2+ years and that 10 percent leave foster care because they age out. The longer they stay, the longer that person will feel unloved because of the physical removal and relocation before, at 18, they are forced to go out on their own.

The short film is reminiscent of classics like Umberto D. and Cathy Come Home, showing the troubled lives of a elderly man and a woman with her two children. The former, however, is set in post-war Italy, which is understandable; the latter is set in Britain’s Swingin’ Sixties and more close to Removed, especially with Cathy’s ending of the children being taken from the mother and placed into foster care. Both films are painful and heart tugging, but not as painful to see how a child must deal with such peril.

Recently, we have seen Lion, about an Indian boy who suddenly becomes lost and is adopted by Australian parents. That true story is emotional because of how it came to be; the same with the first act of Moonlight about a boy being mentored by a crack dealer, ironically, because his mother is a crack addict. We feel the pain for them and how they get separated from their biological parents and are forced to find love in other areas.

Removed might as well be a true story because there are thousands of Zoe’s and some are in a worse position than she is in real life. It’s a story that, in less than 15 minutes, makes you aware that children are easily uprooted and moved around like boxes in a storage unit.