Celeste Davis

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Celeste Davis as Silver Strand in Purgatory House.

Stories of troubled or angst-ridden teens are no stranger to the independent film landscape. Nevertheless, eloquent stories written by girls that have just entered those teen years are pretty few and far between. We last saw Nikki Reed accomplish this feat, when her much talked about indie drama, Thirteen, was released in 2003. And now itâ€(tm)s Celeste Davisâ€(tm) turn. At the young age of 14, the young writer-actress recorded her life struggles on paper and, soon after, on screen. The result was Purgatory House (shot a year before Thirteen), which has experienced a wide run on the festival circuit and will be released on DVD January 16.

When Davis was seven, her parents divorced and she moved across the country with her alcoholic mother. Things became tense and she left shortly after. Back in California, Davis lived for a time with her father, but ultimately landed herself in a shelter for runaway teens, struggling to find meaning in a life she didnâ€(tm)t ask for and couldnâ€(tm)t deal with alone. Serendipitously, Davis’ attempt to rehabilitate herself was what also landed her a spot in the world of moviemaking.

Davis joined The Big Sisters of Los Angeles and met her would-be director Cindy Baer. Davis came to Baer with her script for Purgatory House—a film that examines the female perspective of life through its protagonist, a lost soul named Silver Strand, and her communication with a god that is distinctly feminine. “Like [Silver] in Purgatory House, I am learning that I canâ€(tm)t run away from my problems,” says Davis, now a mature and adjusted young adult. “They go where I go. I have to deal with them, and only I can make them better.”

For more information on Davis and Purgatory House, visit her website.

Sound Off: Every moviemaker was a teenager at one point in his or her life. But does it take an actual teenager to accurately convey all of those turbulent emotions puberty brings about? Can adults do it just as well by recalling their own adolescence?

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