Home / CINEMA / New Documentary From East Pleasant Pictures ‘Kidnapped For Christ’

New Documentary From East Pleasant Pictures ‘Kidnapped For Christ’

Kidnapped for Christ is a feature-length documentary film, which follows the stories of several American teenagers who were sent to an Evangelical Christian reform school located in The Dominican Republic called ?Escuela Caribe.? The school is run by Americans and is advertised as a ?therapeutic Christian boarding school? whose mission is to ?help struggling youth transform into healthy Christian adults.? While many have praised the school for saving the lives of hundreds of troubled teens, in the past several years many former students have begun to speak out against the school, claiming that they suffered both psychological and physical abuse during their time there. The film?s director, Kate Logan, set out to document the experiences of the students at this remote boarding school and was given unprecedented access to film for seven weeks on campus in the summer of 2006. Through candid interviews with distressed students, footage of staff imposing extreme discipline and punishments, and finally the attempted rescue of a student being held at the school illegally past the age of 18, she was able to reveal the shocking truth of what was actually going on at Escuela Caribe.

The film centers on the story of David, a straight-A student from Colorado who was sent to Escuela Caribe in May of 2006 after coming out to his parents as gay. Like many others, David was taken in the night without warning by a ?transport service? and was never told where he was going or when he would be brought back home. While at Escuela Caribe, David had no way of communicating with any of his friends or family back home until the filmmakers arrived and he decided to ask them if they would smuggle out a letter that he had secretly written to his best friend. Once word got back to David?s community about what had happened to him, many people sprung to action and formed a plan to get him released. Getting David out of this school, however, turned out to be a much more difficult task than anyone had thought, and the trials they went through to get David released revealed just how far Escuela Caribe would go to prevent a student from leaving.

David was not the only student whose life was impacted by the school?s severe approach to discipline. The filmmakers followed many other students who also experienced degrading punishments and who struggled to understand what was happening to them. The film also features interviews with former students, including Julia Scheeres, whose 2005 New York Times Best Selling memoir Jesusland tells the story of the disturbing physical and physiological abuse she witnessed and suffered at Escuela Caribe during the 1980s.

The growth of the troubled teen industry, especially therapeutic boarding schools located in the United States and abroad, has given rise to many other allegations of the inhumane treatment of youth and the exploitation of families who are desperately seeking help for their teenagers. The goal of Kidnapped for Christ is to tell the stories of the students at Escuela Caribe and to give them a voice so that they may make people aware of the broader industry of schools like Escuela Caribe and the potential danger they constitute for our youth. We hope that the film will be entertaining, shocking, thought provoking and will ultimately inspire change in the way these types of schools are run and regulated.

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