Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Girls on the Wall

Showing at the Chicago International Film Festival: Girls on the Wall, directed by Heather Ross

Synopsis from the movie's website:

A group of incarcerated teenage girls get a shot at redemption in a most unlikely form: a musical based on their lives. As they write and stage their play, the girls must re-live their crimes, reclaim their humanity, and take a first step toward breaking free of the prison system.

Meet Whitney (17)—the eyes and ears of Warrenville, and our unexpected heroine. Intimidating, self-isolating, and one of Warrenville’s longest-term inmates, Whitney is infamous for a crime she won’t talk about. Despite herself, she soon emerges as one of the most powerful storytellers in the group. Her writing introduces us to her charming, drug-addled father, a man whose mistakes paved the way to his daughter’s heinous crime. As the performance approaches, Whitney’s growing voice may lead both of them to confront the past and try to move forward.

Rosa (17) is a hot-tempered girl who taunts guards and inmates alike. Released from Warrenville, she returns weeks later after getting nearly killed in a knife fight. With a constant reminder of her temper carved into her throat, she is forced to grapple with the abuse that is the source of her anger.

Christina (18) is a friendly, popular girl whose only crime is running away. Drawn into street life by her mother’s crack habit, she’s spent most of her life in jails and foster placements. When she gets a chance for adoption by a wealthy Christian family, she jumps at it– but can’t reconcile her new upper-middle class life with her loyalty to her mother’s world.

When the girls hit the stage in front of their families, prison staff and utter strangers, hitting the notes isn’t important: it’s their chance to seize their stories and tell them to the world. Given unprecedented access to this juvenile correctional facility by the State of Illinois, the powerful characters of Girls on the Wall will surprise you with their candor, intimacy, and unexpected sense of humor. Together, they illustrate the power of storytelling to make sense of even the darkest pasts.

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