They Call Us Monsters


2017 Season
London, Palo Alto, San Diego, Zurich

*Presented in partnership with Human Rights Film Festival Zurich
In this powerful documentary, Juan, Jarad and Antonio, ages 14 to 16, face decades in prison in California, where juveniles older than 14 can be tried as adults for violent crimes. While incarcerated, they sign up for a screenwriting class and while collaborating on a short film that collectively fictionalises their lives and dreams, all three inadvertently grant the audience a remarkable insight into their minds and experiences. While the gravity of their crimes haunts every frame, these youths are still children. To penal reform advocates, they are kids. To the law, they are adults. To their opponents, they are monsters. 

Benjamin Lear
English, Spanish
Filmmaker Bio(s): 
Benjamin 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, 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. Upon the album’s release, he partnered with Plastic Pollution Coalition and 5Gyres to raise awareness for plastic pollution. This work has led Lear to performances at TED and the UN. As a result of shooting this film, Ben sits on the advisory board of InsideOUT Writers and is an ally member within the Anti-Recidivism Coalition, teaching a weekly writing class within the Compound and mentoring former juvenile offenders upon reentry.