The wonderful 2013 film Short Term 12 tells the story of a care facility for juveniles in the San Francisco Bay Area, in which twenty-something year old Grace, her partner Mason, and a few other dedicated young staff members take care of kids from difficult backgrounds and abusive homes. Tough and capable, Grace hides a difficult personal history not much different than that of the kids she cares for, and arguably understands them better than the professional therapists she works with. The discovery that she is pregnant, and some bad news regarding her father, undo her just as a new teenager comes to the home, stirring rage and frustration.

While the story discusses institutionalization and incarceration very, very gently, and focuses on the feelings and relationships of the participants, it is a good reminder that crime is real and has real victims. Changing young people’s paths and fates takes a lot of courage and love, and the line between infantilizing someone and believing him or her is very thin.

I was incredibly moved, and that was before I heard about the lovely and important art project inspired by the movie:


This highly recommended movie streams live on Netflix.

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