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Changeology

Top 10 2017 Toronto Raindance Live Option competition

Top six of the 2014 Reelheart International Screenplay Competition (Toronto)


Genre: Family dramedy

Mark and Christine Bernstein are not your average couple. Mark is Jewish. Christine grew up Catholic. Their status quo is rocked when their 19 year-old daughter, Leah, announces she's become a Muslim.

Synopsis

Mark is Jewish. Christine grew up Roman Catholic. Neither believes in formal religion. They've raised their children, Leah and Jake, with traditions from both cultures, but without religion. Life throws them a curveball when nineteen year-old Leah announces that she has converted to Islam. Leah, a seeker by nature, has friends from many different religions: Bahai, Judaism, Christian, but Islam is the faith that speaks to her.

At the same time other changes are thrust upon Mark and Christine. Christine learns that her recently widowed father, Hal, is internet dating and her best friend, Terri's daughter has just announced she's gay and plans to marry her girlfriend. Withdrawn and evasive, their teenage son, Jake, is acting mysteriously.

In their struggle to understand Leah's choice, Mark and Christine attend an "Islamaphobia" Conference as well as a group therapy session with the P.OR.K organization-Parents of Religious Kids. Mark suffers nightmares wherein Leah is being married in a mosque and suddenly turns into a bearded terrorist throwing bombs.

Mark and Jake are at odds. Mark wants Jake to go to business school, Jake is an artist at heart.

Meanwhile Leah struggles to justify her choice to friends and family. To further complicate things, the family tries to keep Leah's conversion a secret from Mark's religious elderly parents, Lou and Trudy, fearing it would be too distressing for Lou as he is scheduled for heart surgery.

And why is Jake being so evasive? Where is he going? What's in that duffle bag he's always got with him?

When Terri gives a engagement party for her daughter, emotions run high. Christine has trouble handling her father's dating, Trudy reveals to Leah that she knows about Leah's choice, Terri has to come to terms with her first public "outing" of her daughter.

Just after Mark is downsized out of his job he learns that Christine thinks she might be pregnant. He suffers another nightmare: endless rooms, each with a crying baby in a crib.

The story culminates when Lou discovers Leah's secret from a newspaper photo of her at an anti-Islamophobia demonstration. Leah is very close with her grandfather and is hurt when he rejects her after finding out about her conversion. Lou, extremely upset, confronts Mark, blaming him for Leah's not following Judaism, and suffers a mild heart attack, landing him in the hospital.

While Lou is in the hospital, Jake is arrested for vandalism. He calls upon his Uncle Jeff to help him. It's revealed that Jake is arrested for spray-painting a graffiti mural...a very beautiful mural. Jeff shows this to Mark, who is blown away when he learns Jake is the artist. He finally sees Jake for who is, not who he wants him to be.

Lou's near brush with death causes everyone to reflect deeply, breaking down their walls and forcing them to come to understanding.

Humorously interweaving the themes of family, faith, and prejudice, Changeology follows one family's struggle to accept change.

Changeology is ideal for an indie production (can be shot in any North American city and has no special effects).