Something a little different! Today’s featured video isn’t a wedding video — we were contacted by Phillip of Blume Photography about a very important story: children fighting to survive in Guatemala’s violent, post-civil war slums.

Well, in that interview I mentioned our conviction that artists ought to use their gifts for good — to make a real difference in the world, to inject into it some of that beauty we celebrate through art. Over the last year, my wife and I embarked on a very unlikely journey that resulted in us (still photographers with no video experience whatsoever) filming/directing/and producing this feature documentary film: Lost Boys of Paradise.

People have responded to the film in a HUGELY gracious way, which we couldn’t have imagined. We’re suddenly seeing lives changed through people all over the country, who are latching on to this project and to a very special organization that’s providing family life and an education to kids who previously were bound by extreme poverty and gang culture.

It doesn’t fit the typical wedding theme; although it represents a pro-bono project that our studio and clients made possible. I wonder if the story may find a place on your blog, where it might inspire some readers to get their own hands dirty to help the helpless.

See the trailer for the film below:

Lost Boys of Paradise: Official Movie Trailer from Phillip Blume on Vimeo.

How to help and promote:

You can request a free DVD version of the film by writing to them at [email protected]! You can also donate to Engadi Ministries (US 501c3 non-profit) by clicking “Donate” on the movie’s Web site.

More information below!

Synopsis

Follow one man’s real-life journey to reclaim the children of Guatemala’s post-civil war slums. Nathan Hardeman, an uncommonly red-haired Guatemalan and UGA alumnus, is an unsung hero to countless boys fighting for survival in one of the world’s most dangerous places — “Paradise,” Guatemala City’s Zone 18. Here, most boys enter a gang by 13 years old, and virtually all of those die from gang violence or drug abuse before they reach 24. Meet the boys, hear their stories, and see the ambitious “Engadi” project being undertaken to provide a refuge and education to boys who, as Nathan believes, will become “mighty men” who turn around Guatemala’s impoverished and fatherless culture entirely. Prepare to be inspired by their boundless potential and faith.

The debut film from Director/Producer and UGA alumnus Phillip Blume, Lost Boys of Paradise represents a labor of love made possible by volunteers and told on behalf of the children who live and die in Zone 18. One hundred percent of proceeds from this film benefit Engadi Ministries Intl.’s work with the real boys of Paradise (US 501c3 non-profit organization).

“Lost Boys” in the public eye:

  • Soundtrack contributions donated by Matt Papa, a recent iTunes Artist of the Week
  • International attention in the DWF newsletter, an online publication for professional photographers
  • National attention via feature on celebrity photographer and humanitarian Jeremy Cowart’s blog.
  • Athens businesses sponsor local screenings, allowing all proceeds and donations to benefit Engadi Ministries and the real “lost boys” of Guatemala’s slums: 2 Story Coffee, Sunshine Cycles, Mirko Pasta, Athens Pool & Spa, Chick Music, Alps Barber & the Salon
  • Official private premiere event at Cine theatre: Opens to a full house of 100
  • First public showing in Watkinsville, GA, attended by 400
  • Return to Cine theatre due to popular interest; showing draws over 60 new viewers.
  • Now showing at select venues nation-wide.
  • Official Selection of the Dixie Film Festival.

Note from the Director

Sitting on a hot concrete slab among rusted playground equipment, my sense of helplessness felt more oppressive than the midday sun. I was a college student, volunteering at an orphanage outside Guatemala City. The summer was ending now, and the barefoot children I watched spinning on this discolored carousel had become the loves of my life. They told me “Te quiero, Papá” – I love you, Daddy. How could I leave them?

But I did leave them. And I’m not sure I ever forgave myself for it. I keep the photos I took of them – some of the first portraits I ever made. I looked back on them last year after my friend Chris called me with a strange request. He had just returned from a trip to Guatemala, where he worked alongside an uncommonly white, red-haired Guatemalan named Nathan Hardeman. Nathan was born in Guatemala (his parents are American), and he returned to the country after a stint in the U.S., during which he attended UGA and the church where Chris and I now serve with our families.

I can best describe Nathan as a visionary. He can look intimidating – a muscular build, square jaw, and advanced- black-belt-kick-butt-take-names-later reputation. It’s a useful reputation to have working in some of the world’s most dangerous slums. He’s also a normal guy, a natural comedian, and a kid at heart. (Most of those muscles are the result of horseplay with his two boys and the boys in the impoverished Zone 18, “Paradise,” for whom he’s the only father figure many have seen.)

Back to the strange request. Chris knew my wife and I have a heart for humanitarian work; he knew as photographers we cared about storytelling. But, when he asked if we’d shoot a video to draw awareness to Nathan’s ministry, he apparently forgot we had never worked with video. The prospect of returning to Guatemala must have affected my judgment, because we agreed to it.

I’d been inspired by stories of Nathan’s work. His faith in the potential of these “lost boys” knew no bounds. He offered them an alternative to the seemingly inescapable gang culture. Still, nothing prepared me for the hope I experienced as I filmed Nathan serving families and pouring his life into Engadi Ministries. This ambitious project was the antidote to the helplessness I felt when I left behind my beloved children at the orphanage! A project that – rather than treating only the symptoms of Guatemala’s fatherless culture – is teaching boys to become “mighty men” who can turn everything around.

This is about making the Engadi vision a reality! We hope the story fills you with the kind of hope we felt – hope that makes you stand up off your concrete slab and pour your life into something worthwhile.

~~~~~~

Help out!

You can request a free DVD version of the film by writing to them at [email protected]! You can also donate to Engadi Ministries (US 501c3 non-profit) by clicking “Donate” on the movie’s Web site.


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