Local documentary “The JJ Project” to be shown at the Drexel Saturday

Eric Lyttle
Columbus Monthly
JJ on stage at the Memorial Theater in Mount Vernon.

The film “The JJ Project,” which chronicles the efforts of 11-year-old JJ House, who miraculously survived infancy with brittle bone disease while shuffling through the foster care system before discovering his love of theater with MTVarts, the Mount Vernon community theater group.

JJ, whose story was featured in the December issue of Columbus Monthly, came into the world on April 3, 2002 with 37 broken bones, born to a 14-year-old mother who couldn’t provide the care needed for her brittle boy. He was placed in the Knox County foster care system, which is where Sharon House met him. "He was all hair and eyes," said the licensed practical nurse working with the foster care system of that first meeting.

The film will be shown Saturday at 12:45 p.m. at the Drexel Theatre (2254 E. Main St., Bexley)  as part of the Columbus International Film & Video Festival. The film’s director, Matt Starr, is a Mount Vernon resident (and former mayoral candidate) and an MTVarts actor himself.

Starr first noticed JJ during a performance of “How I Became a Pirate,” a play based on a children’s book by Melinda Long and David Shannon that MTVarts allowed JJ House to direct. Starr was captivated by JJ’s tale.

“People love this story,” Starr told Columbus Monthly last winter. “It is something that’s going to be around long after I’m gone.”

A Q&A with Starr and JJ House will follow Saturday’s screening of the film.