They Call Us Monsters
May 22, 10 pm

They Call Us Monsters


About the Film

They Call Us Monsters goes behind the walls of the Compound, a high-security 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.  

The film follows three young offenders who sign up to take a screenwriting class with producer Gabe Cowan as they await their respective trials. Arrested at 16, Jarad faces 200 years-to-life for four attempted murders; Juan, also arrested at 16, faces 90-to-life for first-degree murder; Antonio was arrested at 14 and faces 90-to-life for two attempted murders. As the boys work with Gabe on their screenplay, their complex stories are revealed. MORE

Halfway through the class, Antonio returns to juvenile court and is released with time served but, back in the neighborhood, quickly falls into the same patterns of drug use and gang life that led to his incarceration in the first place. Meanwhile, the realities of Jarad and Juan’s crimes and pending trials set in. One of the victims of Jarad’s shooting is only 17 and permanently confined to a wheelchair. And, even if he is released, Juan faces deportation and separation from his family, including his infant son.

In California, juveniles between the ages of 14 and 17 can be tried as adults and receive sentences longer than their natural life expectancy. As the film reveals, in the last four years, the state has passed bills to decrease juvenile sentencing – a move that re-sparked a national debate over the very nature of these violent juvenile offenders.


The Filmmaker

Ben Lear graduated from NYU in 2010 with a degree in music composition. For his senior recital, Lear wrote and performed his folk-opera Lillian (about a man who travels to the great Pacific garbage patch to reclaim all he’s lost) with a 20-piece orchestra and light show. Lear, who released Lillian as an album, partnered with Plastic Pollution Coalition and 4Gyres to raise awareness for plastic pollution. This work has led him to performances at TED and the UN.  As a result of making They Call Us Monsters, his first film, Lear sits on the advisory board of InsideOUT Writers and is an aly member within the Anti-Recidivism Coalition, teaching a weekly writing class within the Compound and mentoring former juvenile offenders under reentry. LESS

Film Credits

DIRECTED BY
Ben Lear

PRODUCED BY
Gabriel Cowan, p.g.a.
Sasha Alpert
Ben Lear

EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS
Jonathan Murray
Gil Goldschein

EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS
Todd Rubenstein
Scott Budnick

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
Ted Dintersmith

CO-PRODUCERS
Ella Hatamian
Chip Warren

EDITOR
Eli Despres

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY
Nicholas Wiesnet

ORIGINAL MUSIC COMPOSED BY
Ari Balouzian

POST SUPERVISOR
Kip Brown

MAIN TITLE DESIGN AND GRAPHICS BY
mindbomb films

ASSISTANT EDITOR
Charles Farrell

ADDITIONAL CINEMATOGRAPHY
Jonathan Bruno
Gabriel Cowan
Zander Eckhouse
Ben Lear
Alicia Pharris
Matthew Walker
Chip Warren
Stefan Weinberger
Trevor Wineman

PRODUCTION SOUND
Matt Kendrick
Cody Peterson
Steven Lee Reynolds
Jasone Serrone

PRODUCTION ASSISTANTS
Jessica Dercks
Nima Shoghi

SOUND DESIGN, EDITORIAL & MIXING
Sound Logic Post

RE-RECORDING MIXER
Jeremy Grody

GUITAR MUSIC WRITTEN & PERFORMED BY
Ben Lear

POST FACILITY
Different By Design

COLORISTS
Brian Hutchings
Luke Cahill

LEGAL SERVICES BY
Ramo Law

POST-PRODUCTION LEGAL
Matthew Sugarman

ADDITIONAL LEGAL SERVICES
Dean Cheley

CONSULTING EDITOR
Doug Blush, A.C.E.

DAILIES EDITOR
Peter Sebastian

TRAILER EDITOR
Victor Livingston

ARCHIVAL CLEARANCE
Katy Garfield

TRANSCRIPTIONISTS
Gretchen Marie Alarcon
Rasha Ezzeldin Hassan Salem Algohary
Abdul Basit
Hannah Campbell
Sayed Md. Sakib Hossain
Szabo Iidiko
Ruth Murega
Priya Ranjan Panigrahi
Reluca Pisau
Sheillane Reyes
Samantha Rivera

FOR BMP FILMS:

DIGITAL MEDIA
Kesila Childers
John Roberts

BUSINESS AND LEGAL AFFAIRS
Noah Solomon
C.J. Vranca
Addison Martinez

POST
Mark Raudonis

ACCOUNTING
Mark Lebowitz
Gurpreet Singh
Stephanie Prasad

PRODUCTION COORDINATOR
Stephanie Gordon

SPECIAL ADVISOR
Mark E. Pollack

DISTRIBUTION ADVISORY SERVICES
Cinetic Media

ARCHIVAL MATERIALS COURTESY OF
ABC
ABC 7
THE CALIFORNIA CHANNEL
CBS
C-SPAN2
MYLIFETOUCH
NBC

CLIPS FROM THE SHORT FILM “LOS"
Courtesy of New Artists Alliance Films

SPECIAL THANKS
InsideOUT Writers
The LA County Department of Probation

FISCAL SPONSOR
IFP

OUTREACH SUPPORT PROVIDED BY
Lynda Heavin-Weinman Foundation
Roger& Chaz Ebert Foundation
AFI/NBC-Universal impact grant

FUNDRAISING SUPPORT PROVIDED BY
Sundance Catalyst

FUNDING PROVIDED BY
Patty Quillin
Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program
The California Wellness Foundation
Philip I Kent Foundation
Carol and Frank Biondi

A BMP Films Production and A New Artist Alliance Production.

This film was produced by BMP Films, Inc. which is solely responsible for its content.

©2016 BMP FILMS, INC. All Rights Reserved.

Do you think these kids have the capacity to change and return to society? What responsibility does society have to them, and also to their victims? Would you be interested in hearing these young men's stories in their own short films, even knowing the crimes they've committed?

AWARDS

  • Independent Lens Audience Award
    2016-2017
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Do you think these kids have the capacity to change and return to society? What responsibility does society have to them, and also to their victims? Would you be interested in hearing these young men's stories in their own short films, even knowing the crimes they've committed?