THEY CALL US MONSTERS

Films

Section: GEx Doc

Synopsis
The Compound is the facility where Los Angeles houses its most violent juvenile criminals. To their advocates, they’re kids. To the system, they’re adults. To their victims, they’re monsters. Three such young offenders sign up to take screenwriting class to write a movie while they await their trials: Jarad, who was arrested at 16 and faces 200 years to life for four attempted murders; Juan, who was arrested at 16 and faces 90 to life for first degree murder; and Antonio, who was arrested at 14 and faces 90 to life for two attempted murders. Each boy lost his innocence around age 12. That was the year Jarad watched his father try to kill himself, the year Juan’s brother jumped him into their gang in El Salvador, and the year Antonio became addicted to meth.

--- regista --- ben learBen Lear
Ben Lear graduated from NYU in 2010 with a degree in music composition. As his senior recital, Lear wrote and performed his folk opera, Lillian, with a 20 piece orchestra and light show. The opera was about plastic pollution. Upon the album’s release, he partnered with Plastic Pollution Coalition and Gyres to raise awareness for this issue. This work has led Lear to performances at TED and the UN.In2016,Lear directed his first feature-documentary, THEY CALL US MONSTERS. As a result of shooting this film, Ben sits on the advisory board of InsideOUTWriters and is an ally member within the Anti Recidivism Coalition, teaching aweekly writing class within the Compound and mentoring former juvenile offenders upon reentry.

Director's statement
“The Compound is a jail within a jail—a high-security facility in the middle of Sylmar Juvenile Hall. Outside its gates, kids play soccer and kickball on a grassy field. These minors are being tried as juveniles for non-violent crimes. They will return home in a matter of months. Inside the Compound, the kids look the same—almost entirely Hispanic and African-American boys dressed in county grays—only they’re not allowed on the grass. They won’t be going home anytime soon. They are LA County’s high-risk juvenile offenders, tried as adults for violent crimes and facing decades, if not hundreds of years in adult prison. When I first entered the Compound in early 2013, I expected to find stocky, Steely-eyed gangsters staring me down, wishing to jump me if given the chance. Either I’d forgotten how young teenagers really look, or I’d watched too much LOCKED'UP'RAW, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Instead I met a classroom full of kids, giddy and eager to tell their stories. They went around the room and shared their career goals. Sixteen-year old Martin said, “I might want to be an architect. Or an artist. There are so many things I don’t even know about yet. But I’m excited to learn!” Then he paused and added, “I just hope I get the chance.” He faced 100 years to life for first-degree murder. For days after, I couldn’t stop thinking about this world I’d stumbled into. The narrow space between a lost childhood and a stolen adulthood where these kids managed to live, laugh and discover their potential. When I learned about an upcoming California Senate Bill that would provide them the opportunity for a second chance, I knew I had a film to make. Two and a half years later, the result:THEY CALL US MONSTERS—a coming of age story set behind bars”.

production
festival contact
BMP Films
(USA)
www.bunim-murray.com

All films in competition are in the original language with Italian subtitles except for +3 and +6 sections that has a live over-sound). Entrance to Elements and Generator screenings is free (subject to available seats) priority will be given to jurors, press and accredited audience.
Masterclass
meeting at the Sala De Sica and Antica Ramiera are for Masterclass jurors and press only.
Entrance to Parental Control
and Gex Doc sections is free up to capacity, Elements +6 and +10, press and accreditation have priority.
Entrance to Wizard Nights
and Fright Nights films is free up to capacity. 

Original Title They Call Us Monsters
Category Official Competition
Section GEx Doc
Tipology Documentary
Duration 82'
Production Year 2016
Nationality USA
Directed by Ben Lear
Director of photography Nicholas Wiesnet
Editor Eli Despres
Sound Carlo Massarelli
Music Ari Balouzian
Main cast Jarad
Juan
Antonio
Produced by Gabriel Cowan, Sasha Alpert, Ben Lear
When 17 LUG - h. 15:00 - Sala De Sica
Trailer u7BQc1Lxm6g

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