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Film Screening and Discussion: "Hoteling" a film by Ryan Buffa

Jimmy Carter Library and Museum
Atlanta, GA

Tuesday, May 28, 2024 - 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. EDT


Hoteling (2024), 24 mins 

When 13-year-old Eli (Jackson Abram) finds himself stuck in the crosshairs of the Department of Family and Children Services and the Georgia Foster Care System, he must navigate the struggles coping with his trauma, lack of stability, and his learning disability while staying in a low-budget hotel as he is awaiting placement in a foster home. With the help of his caring and most consistent guardian, Matt (Khary Payton), Eli prepares for a desperate reunion with his younger brother Isaiah (Asher Clay). 


The narrative short film is based on real issues happening in the foster care system. “Hoteling” is the practice of housing a child whose behavior or mental health conditions prevent them from being successfully placed in a traditional placement (eg foster family or group home. These are often children with multiple mental and/or behavioral health conditions who require 24-hour supervision to prevent them from causing harm to themselves and others. 



What was often meant to be a short stay in the hotel for the child while awaiting placement, has often lasted weeks or months at a time in some cases due to a shortage of foster parents and a stressed system which was amplified during and after the pandemic.


The practice of hoteling has persisted for years in Georgia and across the nation in states such as Washington, West Virginia, Texas and Oregon.


In January 2023 on any given night in Georgia, approximately 50 to 70 children in foster care with complex needs would sleep in a local office or hotel.


Although significantly reduced from the number cited at the beginning of 2023, children in foster care with complex needs continue to be housed in hotels or Division of Family and Children Services offices on a regular basis as of the beginning of 2024. 





RYAN BUFFA (Executive Producer/Writer/Director)

Ryan Buffa is a writer, director and producer from Atlanta, GA and currently based in New York City. She began her producing career on The Walking Dead and ended the series as a Co-Producer. She was also the Associate Producer on TWDU: The Ones Who Live, premiering in February 2024.  Her short films, APPLES & ORANGES and SWEETHEART have screened at several film festivals across the United States and both won Best Local Short Film (2018 and 2021) at the Atlanta Horror Film Festival.  She has a BA in journalism and media production from Flagler College, where she has won several Student Society of Professional Journalism awards for her multi-media journalism. 

HOTELING is Buffa’s third short film. Her hope is that by telling a fictional story based on the current events of hoteling practices by the Department of Children and Family Services, that it will help mobilize communities to both consider fostering and urge lawmakers to end this practice and provide better care for children and minors across the country





Khary Payton has become synonymous with one of DC’s hottest heroes Cyborg, having voiced the character for over 20 years in numerous series, DVM’s and games, including the critically acclaimed feature “Teen Titans Go! To the Movies” based on the #1 cartoon series “Teen Titans Go!” 

Payton wrapped up the 11th and final season of AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” playing fan-favorite King Ezekiel, garnering up numerous acting noms and millions of fans worldwide. From one King to another, Payton is King Penguin in Universal’s animated $1.2 Billion global hit, based on the beloved long running video game, “The Super Mario Bros. Movie.”

Payton will also reprise his role of Black Samson in Amazon Studio’s huge hit, “Invincible” with season 2 returning in 2024. He will also return for season 2 of “The Legend of Vox Machina.” 

A few video games: The Sims, Reigel in Starcraft, Drebin in Metal Gear Solid, Azrael & Killer Croc in the Batman: Arkham franchise & Knox from Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, are just some of the many roles he’s known for. 

Born in Augusta, Georgia, Payton caught the acting bug after seeing a production of Cyrano De Bergerac in the 1st grade. As a teenager, he developed a local rep as a rapper and stand- up comic, sharing the stage with such notables as Tom Kenney & Chris Rock. After spending his teenage years consoling comedians at the bar between sets, Payton opted for college at Southern Methodist University in Dallas to study acting and directing. He stayed in Texas for several years thereafter, honing his craft in classical and experimental theatre before finally making his way to Hollywood. 

Payton co-wrote, produced & starred in the independent sci-fi feature, “Astronaut: The Last Push.” The film soared through festivals from London to LA, winning 13 awards including Best in Show at the IFS & Fargo Film Festivals. Payton took home three awards for Best Actor. 



Jackson Abram, a young actor, has displayed remarkable versatility and depth in his roles. His performances in "Boxed in 2" and popular TV shows such as "Sweet Magnolias" and "Ordinary Joe" have earned him acclaim. These roles highlight his ability to bring a range of characters to life, showcasing his adaptability and skill. Abram's early interest in acting, beginning with a childhood fondness for character play, has evolved into a career marked by memorable and diverse performances. His commitment to his craft continues to make him a standout talent in the acting industry.



Darian Rolle is a Bahamian-American television, film, and stage actor. He credits an insatiable curiosity paired with his early years in the church as to what led him to the arts. Darian graduated from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke with a BA in Theatre. Most notable projects include; “Till” and “The Wonder Years.” He continues to evolve as an artist and is most definitely one to keep your eyes on.



Veteran actor Kevin L. Johnson can be seen across both television and film, but he is best known for his role as ‘Sam Dermody’ in Netflix’s hit series “Ozark” starring Jason Bateman and Laura Linney. What originally started as a two-episode role in season one, led instead to Johnson portraying ‘Sam’ each additional season, including the fourth and final. Johnson can also be seen as ‘Eric’ in Netlflix’s “Florida Man,” executive produced by Bateman and will guest star in the hit cult show “Stranger Things.”


Johnson fell in love with acting while attending Clemson University. As an assignment for his newly declared English major, Kevin was required to see “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.” The grand production impacted him so greatly that he registered for acting classes the next day for the following semester


Johnson’s expansive resume includes roles in numerous television series and films. His television credits include CBS’s “FBI,” Cinemax’s “Banshee,” CBS’ “Reckless,” MTV’s “Finding Carter,” FOX’s “The Resident,” OWN’s “Greenleaf” and OWN’s “If Loving You Is Wrong.” His additional film credits include “Prisoners” opposite Jake Gyllenhaal, “Careful What You Wish For” opposite Nick Jonas, “American Animals” opposite Evan Peters and “Blue Ridge” opposite Johnathon Schaech




All events listed in the calendar are free unless noted.