Take This Heart

Take This Heart

jamil16mm film
broadcast on PBS, 1998

Director Kathryn Hunt
Producers Jane Gibbons/Kathryn Hunt
Executive Producer Elizabeth Brock
Editor Jeanne Slater
Cinematography Erik Daarstad
Music Bruce Hunt

For the nearly one million American children who are compelled—often for their own safety—to live in foster care, daily life is a forbidding venture. Cast adrift at an early age, dispossessed of everyone they have known or loved (often the very adults who have abused or abandoned them), they are left to grow up in a world that has proven profoundly unreliable, with strangers who may or may not offer comfort and protection.

Take This Heart is the story of three boys who struggle to make sense of their harsh fates, each in his own way. Robert, Jamil (above), and Joaquin have been passed from one foster home to the next, eventually landing in the care of Tess Thomas, a state-funded foster mother. Thomas sees her work with children as ”God’s purpose for me,” and although she never proselytizes, it is clear that her commitment derives from a serene and fierce spirit.

Take This Heart is crafted from the modest and ordinary events of daily life, when small moments become dramatic, illuminating the dark sense of loss and emptiness borne by these children. Their stories reveal the remarkable resiliency and the tough-minded will with which these boys go on with their lives, not utterly consoled, but not broken, either. The film is ever watchful for the gestures that signal a child’s tentative sense of belonging. Take This Heart explores the experiences of a few children in one foster home in Seattle, and in so doing, gives voice to an invisible population of children otherwise consigned to silence at the margins of society.