Film poster for "Possible Selves" with man looking at skyline.
Film poster for "Possible Selves" with man looking at skyline.
Two teens pursue college dreams while growing up in the unstable world of foster care


Regular price $129.00


Recommended - Educational Media Reviews Online | PREMIERE - Human Rights Watch Film Festival

Social Work • Sociology • Education • Family Studies • School Counseling • Educational Equity • College Access • Developmental Psychology

Date of Completion: 2022 | Run Time: 84 minutes​​ | Language: English with English subtitles | Captions: No | Includes: Transcript (Coming Soon) | Director: Shaun Kadlec | Producers: Shaun Kadlec & Sarah Feeley | Executive Producers: Jamie Wolf and Bill Resnick

POSSIBLE SELVES follows Alex and Mia, two teenagers in foster care, as they pursue college dreams while struggling with lives torn between biological and foster families. Alex, a foster teen in Los Angeles, navigates four years of high school as he tries to overcome the odds and get into college–at a time when only 3% of American kids who grow up in foster care receive bachelor's degrees. Along the way, Alex struggles to balance his love for his biological family with the need to assimilate into his foster family. Meanwhile, we also meet Mia during her senior year of high school. She is a foster youth who has survived severe trauma and abuse and is now with a supportive and loving foster family. While the obstacles to success that the teenagers in POSSIBLE SELVES face are extreme, their resilience paired with the love and support of caring adults may make it possible for them to become the adults they dream of being.

Educational Media Reviews Online | Giovanna Colosi, Librarian for the School of Education, Subject Instruction Lead, Syracuse University
Recommended - "According to the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS), there are approximately 420,000 children in foster care in the United States as of 2021. Of these children only an estimated 3% graduate from college. Possible Selves follows teenagers who are placed in foster care through their high school years to see if they can reach that goal ... This film would work well for in-class viewings in courses such as social work, sociology, counseling and human services and teacher prep."

Shaun Kadlec began his documentary filmmaking practice during a Fulbright fellowship in Sri Lanka where he studied peace and reconciliation through the arts. He spent many years making short-form documentaries and commercials around the world. This led to directing his feature-length documentary debut, BORN THIS WAY, a verité portrait of the LGBTQ+ community in Cameroon. The film premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival and received many honors, including the Grand Jury Award for Best Documentary at Outfest.

Shaun’s newest documentary, POSSIBLE SELVES (about teenagers living in the foster care system), launches nationally on PBS in 2024. Shaun has received artist residencies at Yaddo and the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts. A gay, first-generation college graduate, Shaun grew up between small towns in Alabama and Central California and now lives in Los Angeles.
Alex Ballantyne was born into a bi-racial Latino family struggling with addiction and untreated mental health issues in Los Angeles. At five years old, he was placed in foster care with his grandmother, and a few years later he was removed from her home and placed with strangers. This began a destabilizing series of foster placements throughout his teenage years.

The summer before entering high school, Alex was accepted into the First Star Bruin Guardian Scholars Academy, a highly competitive college prep program for foster youth, sponsored by UCLA. During high school, Alex became a dedicated member of his school band, expertly playing multiple low brass instruments. He received many music awards from his school as well as from the Marine Corps Band. He went on to tour nationally with the Sacramento Mandarins Drum Corps during his senior year.

Just after his high school graduation, Alex became homeless. Following a year of struggle, he entered a transitional housing program for former foster youth and was able to begin college–a huge achievement when only 3% of American young people in foster care receive bachelor’s degrees. He is currently majoring in business at Pasadena City College and works in the college’s IT department. He hopes to transfer to UC Berkeley after completing his AA degree.