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West Texas Film Festival begins Thursday - Odessa American: News

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West Texas Film Festival begins Thursday

“Foster Boy” one of numerous movies to be shown during event

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Posted: Tuesday, November 19, 2019 3:54 pm

Jay Paul Deratany holds children in foster care close to his heart.

The founder of The Deratany Firm in Chicago, Deratany has been practicing law for about 30 years in the areas of adoption and foster care negligence, birth injury, and wrongful deaths, and when he speaks, he speaks passionately about his work.

But he also has a passion towards writing, and has used his love of children advocacy and writing to help bring the conversation about the topics to the public conscious.

As the playwright of “Haram! Iran!” and screenwriter of “Saugatuck Cures,” Deratany’s latest film “Foster Boy” is a story that was originally inspired by a case against a for-profit foster agency he took on in the early 2000s.

In that case, Deratany said, the for-profit foster agency failed to disclose certain information to the foster parent and the child she took into her home assaulted her three children. And while Deratany said he has no problem with for-profit institutions, he said foster care is not an area that should be allowed to cut corners or make mistakes.

“ I’m all in favor of the marketplace … but children aren’t products,” Deratany said in a phone interview.

That case, along with about three others, was the inspiration for “Foster Boy,” which is scheduled to screen at 7 p.m., Saturday, at the Jack Rodgers Auditorium at Odessa College, 201 W. University Blvd. The film will be one of several during the West Texas Film Festival, which begins Thursday, and runs through Saturday.

“ Foster Boy” is about Michael Trainer, played by Matthew Modine of “Stranger Things” and “Full Metal Jacket” fame. Deratany said, Trainer is a corporate lawyer going through a divorce, estranged from his son, and going through a crisis.

During the film, Trainer is assigned a pro bono case by a judge played by Academy-award winning actor Louis Gossett Jr., to work with Jamal Randolph, played by Shane Paul McGhie.

“ He (Randolph) sees him (Trainer) as a three-piece jerk,” Deratany said, adding the story then turns into a courtroom drama.

Deratany said he will be unable to attend the screening, but said he hopes enough people enjoy the film to seriously take into consideration foster care, and see how providing for a child is an issue that transcends political identities.

Deratany also serves as lead producer, and said the film is getting a large boost from executive producer Shaquille O’Neal. In an op-ed, O’Neal was quoted as saying “I will not give up on foster kids.”

“ He has a heart as big as his shoe size,” Deratany said.

The film festival begins Thursday at the Ellen Noël Art Museum, 4909 E. University Blvd., and the film screenings will be Friday and Saturday at Odessa College, 201 W. University Blvd. Tickets are $15 for a day pass, and $30 for all three days.

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