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Hallowed Ground

Updated: May 19, 2022

By Jennifer Ward

Hallowed Ground silhouette. Photo by Jamie Simiele

What started out as a simple school project has grown to be a personal piece for freshman screenwriting/playwriting major Jamie Simiele, covering incredibly heavy topics in class that most wouldn’t dare to touch.

“Hallowed Ground”, a short student film covering as controversial a topic as religion is more than just a final project for Simiele and his friends. Covering such a dark story like this, attachment to the project is just bound to happen. “Hallowed Ground” is no different to this cast and crew.

“So this is about a young girl who is going through what a lot of kids in the evangelical church go through, which is, ‘have I lived this lie well enough that when the time comes I can walk through that door?’” said Simiele.

“It’s this whole idea of looking through the gates of eternity and not recognizing the God you were told about your entire life,” Simiele continued. “It’s about the people you know, love, and surround yourself with going through those doors and you don’t because you’re not sure what’s waiting on the other side of eternity, isolation, and the abandonment you feel from the church.”

Although covering a specific concept, religion and indoctrination, the film is left open-ended, allowing the viewers to come to their own conclusions on what has happened to the main character they follow.

Lead Nadine Raybrun on set. Photo by Ruby Soudant

Nadine Rayburn, sophomore playwriting/screenwriting major and lead actress in the short film shows nothing but praise and care for the film, atmosphere on set, and her fellow cast and crew members, as well as describes the film itself as a story with a girl bargaining with her own faith.

“I think it’s very much up to interpretation. I know the people who have seen it already interpret it in a lot of different ways which I think is kind of cool,” said Rayburn. “It’s not abstract to the point of it being abstract- it’s something that could be very much interpreted by anybody who has any sort of questioning or criticism within their own experience with religion.”

While covering a film dealing with heavy themes of anxiety, looming pressure, and uncertainty, the idea of being left behind is terrifying for most to think about. Religious trauma is a very serious topic that has begun to be explored in recent years. This film doesn’t shy away from confronting many of those fears and anxieties.

Simiele directing on set. Photo by Ruby Soudant

“Demons are seen as fallen angels, so what do they know that we don’t that made them say ‘I will be damned for eternity and it still will be worth it,” said Simiele. “The church and religion have been a huge part of my background. There is this idea in revelations that Christ will come back and the trumpets will start blasting and everybody will just be lifted into heaven. There’s this anxiety you have growing up in the evangelical church of when everyone else disappears, am I going to be stuck here to sit around and wait for annihilation to happen.”



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