HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY (FOX 13) - Eight years ago, a teen girl was brutally attacked and raped outside the Bloomingdale Regional Library, left unable to walk, speak, or see. People all around the Tampa Bay area have been inspired by Queena Phu as she fights every day to recover.
Now, a young local filmmaker hopes to take her story worldwide. While most people know her for what happened to her, Derrick Bell Perez knows her for her unshakable spirit and constant smile. That's what he wants the world to experience through his upcoming film, "Queena: The Story of the Library Attack Survivor".
Perez is 18 years old, the same age as Queena Phu when her life changed forever. In April of 2008, she was a senior at East Bay High School with a bright future. She was excited for her upcoming prom. Then, life changed in an instant.
One night, Queena was attacked and raped outside Bloomingdale Library by then-16-year-old Kendrick Morris. Though left unable to see, speak or walk, Queena's strong spirit could not be touched.
"The audiences are going to go in there knowing her as the Bloomingdale Library attack victim. But, I want them leaving there knowing her as the Bloomingdale Library attack survivor," Perez said. "She is a fighter."
The words in the trailer read, "You know her name... but do you know her story?"
"We want to turn Queena from a local hero to a worldwide inspiration," Perez said. "Her story is amazing. Her fight to recovery. She's got such a bubbly cheerful spirit."
"We were absolutely on board from the minute he told us he had this idea," said Anna Donato, Queena's sister.
Local actors and actresses will portray Queena, her family and friends, before and after the attack. It's a chance for Donato to see her sister again as a high school senior.
"We are just super excited about how it is going to turn out," Donato said. "It's, for me, an opportunity to see my sister on screen again, even though it will be an actress portraying her. I haven't seen Queena, before the attack, in eight years, the way she was. He is going to be bringing her back to life."
Perez and his partner Ryan Brison are now working to raise $25,000 to pay for a new camera, equipment, costumes, makeup and production costs before shooting can start. But in the end, it's all for Queena.
"Everything after that, from ticket sales and event sales and everything after that, anything, that all goes into Queena's fund to help her get better," Perez said.
Perez is actually an abuse survivor. Just as Queena inspired him, he hopes this film inspires anyone struggling with a problem to keep fighting.
The end of the movie will feature a montage of video of Queena, herself. That'll include video from this year's prom night when Perez takes her as his date.