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HCC Central and Northwest students to star in upcoming independent film

HCC’s VAST Academy graduates Michael Iovine (left) and Monica Gaseor (right) in Corsicana for the upcoming independent film Love Land. The feature film is scheduled for release in 2014.

Monica Gaseor and Michael Iovine, two recent graduates of HCC Central’s and HCC Northwest’s VAST Academy, have leading roles in the upcoming, independent film Love Land, which will be presented next year at the Sundance, Tribeca and South-by-Southwest film festivals.

Gaseor, who graduated from HCC Central’s VAST Academy in May, has the leading role of “Ivy” in the dramatic feature film, which focuses on a fiery young woman with a severe, traumatic brain injury who refuses to be identified as a person with an intellectual disability. When she is placed in an private institution for people with disabilities – called Love Land Ranch – on the outskirts of a small, Texas town, Ivy stops at nothing to prove she is “normal” and not “special.”

Iovine, a real-life athlete who graduated from the VAST Academy at HCC Northwest, plays the role of “Roger,” a resident of Love Land. The narrative film centers on how society’s view of people with developmental differences must change, and that inclusion, appreciation of human diversity, and freedom from stereotypical labels should be a collective goal.

The film is directed, written and produced by Josh Tate, a rising filmmaker and graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and USC’s School for Cinematic Arts.

Gaseor and Iovine were selected at open auditions for their roles. The HCC graduates spent the past few weeks filming in Corsicana and other locations. They are both aspiring actors and performing members of the Dionysus Theatre group in Houston, the only inclusive theater in Texas in which disabled actors share the stage with non-disabled actors.

Gaseor has performed in several plays and musicals with Dionysus, but Love Land represents her first leading role in film. She plans to continue pursuing her acting career and her goal of serving as a teaching assistant to children or working with the elderly.

Iovine has been in more than 10 plays with Dionysus and is a member of the traveling troupe. He works at Sunrise Senior Center as a dining room assistant and is a member of the Katy Wolf Pack Special Olympics team. He will compete as a swimmer in the National Special Olympic Games in Princeton, NJ in June 2014.

Now in its 20th year, HCC’s VAST Academy, which is headquartered at HCC Central, provides post-secondary transition programs and comprehensive support services leading to meaningful credentials, employment and independence for differently-abled individuals.


For more information about the film Love Land, please go to or For more information about HCC’s VAST Academy, please go to:


Debra McGaughey

Director of Public Relations, College Communications

& Marketing Strategies

P 713.718.6226


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