One of the most famous stories to emerge from the Columbine school massacre has become an award-winning short film.
The character of Rachel Scott is shown seated just prior to a re-enactment of her shooting at Columbine High School in “Rachel’s Challenge.” (ViaMedia.)
"Rachel's Challenge," a 7-minute film about student Rachel Scott who professed belief in God before being killed in the 1999 school shooting, has won the Amazon Theater/Tribeca Film Festival Short Film Competition.
The film, whose full title is "Rachel's Challenge—The Battle Between Good and Evil," combines interviews with Scott's family and friends with re-enactments of Scott's life and the Columbine massacre.
Jon Lindgren of ViaMedia-Jon Lindgren Productions accepted the grand prize at a ceremony June 29 in New York. The Midland, Texas-based company won $50,000 on an American Express card for its next film project. American Express is a founding partner of the online film competition.
Rachel Scott was one of 13 people fatally shot at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold on Apr. 20, 1999. Harris and Klebold ended the siege by taking their own lives on school property.
Information from various reports holds that Scott, prior to being shot, was asked by one of the shooters if she still believed in God.
"You know I do," she responded. Scott's story continues to galvanize the Christian community.
The short film examines this moment, as well as one of Scott's mysterious drawings, which she told a teacher she was "inspired to draw" just a couple of hours before being killed. The drawing shows a pair of eyes shedding 13 tears onto a rose, which is itself dotted with droplets of blood.
"There were these premonitions or prophetic senses that she had," says Darrell Scott, Rachel's father, in the film, "and I think she picked up things that normally she wouldn't have."
The film also emphasizes how Scott frequently wrote and talked about being a source of positive change in the world. Rachel's Challenge is also the name of a school program founded by Darrell Scott to inspire students to treat each other humanely.
The film was one of more than 1,000 films submitted this spring for the online competition, according to an Amazon/Tribeca press release. Visitors to Amazon.com could watch the films and rate them from one star to five. At the end of May, Lindgren's film had become one of five finalists.
The five finalist films appeared on the Amazon.com welcome page for about one month, where visitors again gave the films star ratings. "Rachel's Challenge" emerged the winner.
Lindgren said he was able to see comments that viewers posted about the film. He said they ranged from the five-star "I'm so glad you included her faith" to the one-star "Why are you writing this garbage?"
"Immediately we could see the polarization," Lindgren told EthicsDaily.com. "The audience is there, and I think that's the audience that voted and allowed us to win."
Lindgren, 43, owns his own videography business in Midland. He has 20 years of broadcast experience ranging from news photography for Spanish-language channels to freelance work for A&E and the Discovery Channel.
The "Rachel's Challenge" film is actually part of a developing TV series called "Everyday Heroes." This reality-based program follows Darrell Scott as he tells the stories of ordinary folks in extraordinary circumstances.
Lindgren is finishing the series' pilot and hoping a distributor will pick up the series. Lindgren said he has researched more than 60 stories for the show.
"One great thing about this win is, it's not a finish line for us. It's a starting point," said Lindgren. "What Tribeca did for us was, it put us on the map."
Cliff Vaughn is culture editor for EthicsDaily.com.
Watch the film "Rachel's Challenge" here.