In the sparsely populated state of New Mexico, the Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD) places about three thousand children in foster care each year. These children were taken from their parents after being neglected or abused. Babies and young children are often relatively easy taken in by an adoptive family, but due to their age and background, these children are considered less desirable. An unorthodox but effective solution was found to this problem: the HEART GALLERY. Professional glamour photographers portray the children at their very best. These pictures are exhibited in public places, such as hospitals and other areas that potential parents might frequent. A marketing trick to sell a ‘product’ and it works.
“These portraits touch an emotional level in people. That emotion starts a chain that allows unconditional love to develop eventually”, says HEART GALLERY founder Diane Granito. “When these prospective parents meet the children for the first time, the longing for a lifelong commitment is almost tangible.” Director Hans Heijnen was present at several activities organized by this project. He met Derrick, Erika, Jannae and Eli, a few of the children who were adopted through HEART GALLERY. They tell about their heart wrenching past and the problems they experienced while they sought to be adopted. These children were filmed in their new families that, through a process of trial and error, have given them an outlook towards a positive future.
Hans Heijnen was born in 1957 in Sittard. He studied political science and in 1981 he went to study at the Dutch Film Academy; he graduated in 1985. He wrote various filmscripts for the EAFA and First Floor Features. Since 1988 Hans Heijnen is working as a freelance-documentary filmmaker voor NOS/NPS and VPRO. After two nominations he received a Golden Calf for is Documentary works at the Dutch Film Festival. (1996). In 1999 he won the Silver Spire Award at the San Francisco International Film Festival for his documentary: “Lisdoonvarna, Lourdes of Love”. In september 2000 the Dutch Film Festival held a retrospective of his films which show the life of people in rural areas, which is a theme in his work.