Ben Lear’s intimate documentary “They Call Us Monsters” follows three young offenders – Jarad, Juan, and Antonio, who are residing in the Compound, a facility that houses Los Angeles’ most violent juvenile offenders. All three offenders are between the ages of 14 and 16 and face adult sentences for their crimes, sometimes decades if not hundreds of years in prison. With unprecedented access to the facility, Lear allows audiences to understand these young men through a screenwriting workshop where they collectively fictionalize their lives. Lear’s film asks difficult questions about America’s justice system, like what is society’s responsibility towards these children? Is it fair that the system treats young offenders like they’re disposable? Where is the line between adulthood and childhood? Do they deserve a second chance? Watch this exclusive clip from the feature that features Jarad, Juan, and Antonio excitedly showcasing their quarters.
Ben lear is the first director to ever film inside the Compound. As a result of “They Call Us Monsters,” Lear now sits on the advisory board of InsideOUT Writers, an organization that uses creative writing as a mechanism to reduce the juvenile recidivism rate, and is an ally member within the Anti-Recidivism Coalition. He teaches a weekly writing class within the Compound and mentors former juvenile offenders upon reentry.
“They Call Us Monsters” will have its world premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival on June 6th.