Film student headed to India to document conversion stories

AVON PARK - Local resident and film major Samantha Berry is headed to an assignment that’s both challenging and exciting. At the end of May, she will be leaving with a group of eight from Lakeland’s Southeastern University, where she is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in film studies. They will be flying to one of the remotest parts of the world, and her job is to chronicle a story that often does not get told. In the Himalayan mountains of India, Berry and her colleagues will follow Buddhist monks who have converted to Christianity and the problems they have faced since.
“These monks have their lives threatened every day because of their conversion,” she wrote in her sponsorship letter about the project called Destination: India. Armed with basic film equipment and a lot of fortitude, Berry will capture on film the lives of these monks and a Christian mission in the area, also spreading the word, she said. “I’m very, very excited that I’m going to be able to spread the word,” she said. Needless to say she is also nervous at the physical effort that will be involved, not just that of living in a foreign country but a challenging landscape with big variations in temperatures and the high elevations of some of these places she will be visiting during her two-and-a-half week trip. Berry, who has a passion for film and hopes to pursue a career in it when she graduates next year, has done other film projects based on Christian themes. She co-produced a three-minute film, “Life's Choices,” about a young boy whose mother was a victim of rape and chose to keep him. That film recently won an award at a film festival at Southeastern University. She also produced two 10-minute films, “Dauntless” and “Cliques.” “Dauntless” won best original score and is based on a true story about a young girl getting hit by car at a bus stop. It could also be interpreted as an anti-texting movie, she said. “Cliques,” which won best original screenplay at the film festival, is about a young college boy discovering his place among all the cliques in a college setting. The next film they are working on is “No Bounty for Vengeance.” “We are hoping to film in Florida and Michigan. It will be a western feature film,” she said. Her trip to India is definitely one of the most ambitious projects of them all, and she needs monetary help to pay for the trip, which will cost $2,800 in total. Those who want to contribute through Southeastern University’s web site should go to Write “Destination (India)” – “Samantha Berry” in the comments section. To send a check, mail it to Samantha Berry, 2788 N. Farnum Road, Avon Park, Fl 33825. The promo video on the trip and the region they will be visiting can be seen at: The deadline for her to get the contributions is May 1. “This year I felt the Lord calling to do missions,” she wrote in her sponsorship letter. “I simply want to go out and love those who are unreached and show them the love of Christ through my genuine words and actions.”