Princeton resident Danielle Eliska Lyle will premiere her new short film, “Shield,” at the New Jersey International Film Festival at Rutgers University in New Brunswick on Oct. 13.
An 18-minute film, “Shield” is about a foster child who overcomes an attachment to her blanket with the help of her foster mother and her use of comic books.
“‘Shield’ is actually something that is a story that’s very dear to me. For me, I have been so ignorant as far as the foster care system,” Lyle said. “I wasn’t a foster child, but when I moved to New York, my neighbor above me would come down and talk to me from time to time. Over the course of a couple of months, she ended up sharing her story. She was actually a foster child in the New York foster care system.”
Originally from Detroit, Lyle moved to New York where she attended New York University for graduate school and studied film, television and dramatic writing. Now living in Princeton, Lyle continues her passion of creating film, a passion that was passed down to her.
“I have loved film and television since a very young age. I always went through flip books as a child,” she said. “It has just been really interesting, as an adult, to see how and why I love film so much. My grandfather was really into taking [photos] of the family, way before I was born. I knew that he took pictures, but I didn’t realize how much until he has passed away and they made a little video of all of his work. I was like, ‘Wow. This is amazing.’”
Taking the inspiration from her grandfather, Lyle continues to create and think of new stories every day, even when it wasn’t her intention.
“In 2014, I felt so compelled to write this story. I was at the gym on the treadmill and I was watching the news,” she said. “I saw a story about a foster care [guardian] who murdered a child who they considered was bad. I found this so disheartening. I started doing some research and this story just came to me.”
After countless hours of foster care research and reaching out to major agencies in New York and Washington, D.C., Lyle approached the writing of this story from a different perspective.
“I realized that all of the superheroes that we sort of admire – Batman, Superman, etc. – were all foster children at some point,” Lyle said. “I wanted to do something that was sweet. I really wrote the story with a positive view. I really wanted to do something where these tools that the foster care system has are available for [the characters].”
After a successful crowdfunding campaign, Lyle and her team filmed her project in Washington Heights, New York, over the span of about four months.
“We had some really great people donate, not just their finances, but their time. They loved the story and the concept of what we were working on,” she said.
“Shield” will debut at 7 p.m. on Oct. 13 at the New Jersey International Film Festival at Rutgers University in Vorhees Hall, 71 Hamilton St., New Brunswick. An additional screening will air at the SHE BAD: Women in Film event at Princeton University’s James Stewart Film Theater, 185 Nassau St., Princeton at 7 p.m. on Oct. 23.