Hope For The Nations

PANAMA: Archivo Pendiente Film Project

Using the power of storytelling through film to impact culture and change lives.

The Cause

Across Latin American orphaned & vulnerable children (OVC's) are growing up in institutions, despite countless studies that prove institutionalization is harmful.  Family-based care and social programs to support poor families are rare, many families feel orphanages are their only option.  Children in institutions are four times more likely to be sexually abused and six times more likely to experience violence than children in Foster Care.  For every year in an institution a child will lose four months of development.  At 18 these children "age out", 60% of girls turn to prostitution and 70% of boys become hardened criminals.  Annually it is estimated 14.5 million children "age out" of institutions worldwide.  They are high-risk and vulnerable to exploitation of every kind. 


The Film; Archivo Pendiente (Pending File)

A young boy who finds love in an unlikely place, Miguel Sanchez is taken from his abusive home in Latin America to a local orphanage. There he must choose between survival or protecting those he has grown to love. PENDING FILE is a dramatic feature film inspired by the children who lived it.

Archivo Pendiente is full-length fictional narrative inspired by actual accounts; it is not a documentary.  Our film will bring awareness to the realities of the hardships children living in institutions face and the immediate need to implement and support family-based care solutions.

L.A.-based Director Helmut Schleppi is uniquely experienced to direct this project with background in making both documentary and feature films.  His film A Foreign Affair was selected for Sundance Film Festival and received "two thumbs up" from Ebert & Roeper.  Helmut is a talented storyteller who knows how to produce quality, independent films.

Modus Operandi is a Emmy-Award winning marketing agency, working for some of the biggest entertainment studios in the world Disney, Warner Bros. and ABC Family.  They have committed to work pro-bono for Archivo Pendiente to develop promotional marketing materials and a website.


Archivo Pendiente is currently in pre-production, we need your donations to get to the next step.  We are looking to hire professional cast & crew to make this the best production possible.  We have been given the opportunity to air the film (once made) on a major TV network and are working to distribute regionally.

Advocate for the rights of children living in institutions and bring awareness to the general public.  Join UNICEF & RELAF's social media campaign http://www.speakupforme.org/ Facebook updates 

Help us be a voice for children who have none!  Make your donation today! 

Tax-deductible receipts are available for U.S. & Canadian donors.

  • Brittany DeVries posted

    Production Designer Rick Willoughby

    Rick Willoughby was born in Toronto, Canada. Initially studying furniture design he soon opened his own studio. Rick began his career in film as sculptor and set builder for CBC's Kids in the Hall.  He moved to Vancouver, B.C. continuing his passion for filmmaking and design working on acclaimed TV series such as X files and Highlander in addition to several feature movies. 
    Rick's appreciation of world culture has drawn him to travel and it's these experiences he brings to his work in film.  Projects such as Human Cargo, a film about world refugees shot in Vancouver and South Africa, and Murder Unveiled shot in Vancouver and India respectively winning Leo and Gemini Awards for Production Design.  Rick has taught Set Design courses at Vancouver's Emily Carr University of Art & Design.

    Establishing himself in Panama Rick has in addition to his design work, begun Airframe Productions Panama, a aerial filming & photography business, and is excited to be part of Panama's growing international community.

  • Brittany DeVries posted

    Casting Director Melanie Gilpin

    This Los angeles actress was born in Cleveland and was on stage by the age of six.  She spent her teen years working in community and professional theater.  Her move to Chicago at 21 gave her the opportunity to be on stage with Second City Chicago, choreograph and compete for Arthur Murray Dance Studio and work in theaters such as the Apollo Theater Chicago.  

    She was able to continue her career in Los Angeles, California and work in many commercials, TV shows and movies. Melanie's varied work experience includes Casting Assistant for commercial, TV and film casting.  She worked for Danny Goldman casting for commercials, Shaner/Testa Casting in Cold Case and Kimberly Foster McCollum Casting for the John Cusack feature film The Factory as well as with The Wayne Brady Show in Clearance.

    Now in Panama she continues to work on stage at the Theatre Guild of Ancon and provide workshops and coaching to the talent of the place she now calls home.  

  • Brittany DeVries posted

    Screenwriter Guillermo Machado

    Guillermo was born in Montreal, Canada to Venezuelan parents. He has lived in many parts of the Americas, including Canada, the United States, Mexico and Venezuela. His knowledge of both Spanish and regional vernacular/customs together with Guillermo's screenwriting acumen bring a rich level of authenticity and story-telling competence to Archivo Pendiente.

    Since 2000 Guillermo has written 12 feature-length screenplays and 4 television pilots. He studied under both Phil Guidry and Dov Simens. Skidboot, a feature film co-written by Guillermo, is currently in development with a novelization of the screenplay by acclaimed author Cathy Luchetti to be released in 2013. In addition to writing screenplays, Guillermo is a children's book author and is currently working on a series illustrated by Christina Leal.  To date Guillermo has written three feature screenplays involving orphans and disenfranchised children in various parts of the world. Archivo Pendiente marks his fourth and most personal undertaking. 

  • Brittany DeVries posted

    Director Helmut Schleppi

    Director Helmut Schleppi has made documentaries on subjects like Romania's Revolution, Israel and Palestine, and the First Gulf War.  His documentary on the former Yugoslavia won the UNICEF award in Amsterdam.  He has worked networks like BBC, ABC, MTV, CNN, REUTERS, AP and The Discovery Channel.

    In 1999, Helmut produced and directed A Foreign Affair which was selected for the Sundance Film Festival, and was distributed in 89 countries around the world.  Ebert and Roeper gave it "two thumbs up".

    After producing the web series The Interior, Helmut filmed an on-line documentary series featuring projects for Food for the Hungry in Africa.  These documentaries feature projects and needs in the East African region. 

  • Brittany DeVries posted

    Producer Brittany DeVries


    In 2008 Brittany relocated to Panama with her husband and daughter.  Soon after she began volunteering at local orphanages and began to learn about the process of family investigations and the challenges children faced in an institutional setting. 

    In April/May 2012 Brittany produced a short documentary with Voice for the Voiceless and Grassroots News, directed by Samuel Joseph Rich.  On May 31st Querido Panama (Dear Panama)premiered in Panama City, Panama and Kona, Hawaii on the same night.   Their log line, "defend children's rights to a family".  At the  Panamanian premiere attendees included  Director Gloria Diaz of SENNIAF, the Minister of International Affairs and  Sister Lourdes (Director of Malambo Orphanage),   Following the premiere Brittany began a social media campaign on Facebook and Twitter to promote legislative reform.  The documentary has been viewed on YouTube by over 10,000 around the world.  Querido Panama recently won an award for "Film Content" at the International Premio Diva Latin American Film Festival.  In July 2013, Law 46 was passed.  This law shortens the process of family investigations, establishes a national foster care program and streamlines adoption for those in a state of adoptability.

    Archivo Pendiente is a labor of love for Brittany.  On a weekly-basis she interacts with several very special "pending files".  To Brittany these children are more than a piece of paper and it is her desire and drive to see these children in a loving family that has made her the advocate she is today.  Passionate about deinstitutionalization and every child's right to family-based care, Brittany has worked tirelessly to communicate to all who will listen.

    Her goal is to see legislative reform not only in Panama but across Latin America & the Caribbean.  She believes in the need to find family-based solutions that work in Third World countries and are in compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.  Currently Brittany works as a Producer at Seedling Media Productions.  

  • Ralph Bromley posted
  • Brittany DeVries posted

    Producer's Notes: Querido Panama

    A year ago in May 2012 I had the privilege of producing a short documentary, Querido Panama/Dear Panama, with Grassroots News and a group of young film students from Voice for the Voiceless.  The documentary lobbied for legislation to be presented to Panama's National Assembly that would streamline family investigations, simplify the adoption process and create Foster Care at the national level allowing Foster Parents to adopt their Foster Children.  

    Thus began my journey into filmmaking with the purpose of using this artistic medium to be an advocate.  The response from viewers of Querido Panama continues to amaze me.  Nearly every person says the same thing, "I didn't know this was happening!  What can I do?" As the producer that is exactly what I want to hear.  These people honestly didn't know about children stuck in Panamanian institutions and the law that could change their current reality.  And now viewers in Panama and around the world are motivated to do something about it. 

    Today Orphan Justice Author Johnny Carr mentioned Querido Panama in his blog series "30 Ways to Care for Orphans in 30 Days: Educate Yourself On the Complexity of International Orphan Care."  http://orphanjustice.com/day-23/ If you consider yourself a person of faith and don’t know the difference between institutional and family-based care for orphaned & vulnerable children I highly recommend you purchase Orphan Justice.

    Next month Querido Panama will be broadcast on local television in Panama with the feature film The Blind Side, starring Sandra Bullock.  On July 1st Panama's National Assembly will resume the debate of Law #551, what an opportunity to educate the general public and legislators about this issue.  This is a great example of a narrative feature film being used to influence society and legislation! 

    While Querido Panama as a student project is not reflective of the filmmaking quality that will be used in the making of Archivo Pendiente/Pending File the goals of the two productions are similar.  We want to tell people about something they don’t know - what institutionalization of children looks like, how it feels to be labeled a “orphan” and grow up in a orphanage.  Then we want our audience to ask that critical question of themselves, “What can I do?” 

    We believe that this film can be used as a powerful tool to influence societies and Thought Leaders as nations develop and reform their policies surrounding their most vulnerable citizens - children.

    What can you do?  Please consider making a donation toward the filming and distribution of Archivo Pendiente.  


  • Brittany DeVries posted

    Producer's Notes: Open Casting Call

    Tomorrow we are casting the nets wide to see what "local talent" Casting Director Melanie Lee can find here in Panama.  This is our first of several casting calls.  We have advertised in the local newspaper, on the radio and in social media.  Hoping for a good turn-out!  

    "On the bonus DVD for City of God it is revealed that the only professional actor with years of filming experience was Matheus Nachtergaele, who played the supporting role of Carrot. Most of the remaining cast were from real-life favelas, and in some cases, even the real-life City of God favela itself. According to Meirelles, amateur actors were used for two reasons: the lack of available professional black actors, and the desire for authenticity." (City of God 2002 Film, Wikipedia)

    Our hope is to find "diamonds in the rough" in Panama who can play convincing performances.  And maybe we'll even strike gold!  With Melanie's experience I am confident we will quickly and efficiently find those with potential to be in Archivo Pendiente.

    As always we need your support whether it be financial or volunteer to help us make the feature film Archivo Pendiente a reality.  Your support will bring awareness to the plight of children stuck in Latin American orphanages.  Together we can see change for children and give hope to the hopeless.



    Producer Brittany DeVries

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