What does life hold for youth who grow up behind bars? MINOR DIFFERENCES tells the harsh truth about locking up kids. Similar to Apted's SevenUP series, the film follows formerly-incarcerated young men for nearly 20 years, providing an intimate view of their journeys to maturity. Told in powerful, racially-diverse, first-person stories, MINOR DIFFERENCES puts a human face to mass incarceration.
I was privileged to join a small group of people invited to provide feedback on Minor Differences before the filmmaker, Heather Dew Oaksen, finished the film. It was clear then that the documentary was on its way to becoming something special, indeed extraordinary. The finished product exceeded my expectations, which were through the roof from the first viewing. Anyone who cares about kids, who is concerned about our juvenile justice system, and who believes in the power of redemption must see this film. From parents to teachers, lawmakers to law enforcers, politicians to correctional system administrators, Minor Differences is a must-see documentary. It offers both a deeply disturbing depiction of how America treats young offenders as well as a message of hope and encouragement for a smarter, more humane approach to youth crime and justice.
Brilliant, very thought provoking and well done. Following young men over the course of some 18 years, it illustrates that incarcerating and demonizing children and enforcing the war on drugs is destroying a large segment of our youth with dire consequences for the future. Privatizing prisons as profit making corporations is totally cynical. The film opens many avenues of discussion to find a better way forward.
Each of these men shared their stories with open honesty and determination to change their lives. The 'close in filming' reveal their faces expressing mistakes in the past and courage in taking responsibility for their actions. Their lives come close to our own lives as individuals involved with self examination. I found them to be strong in stating their situation and desire to establish positive changes in their lives. I could relate to these men and could relate to their vulnerability in seeking redemption and meaning from a life of making poor choices. I was encouraged by their resolve to live a better life.
This documentary, based on film and video taken over many years, raises issues that are absolutely pertinent to our society today. In a sense, the film documents the tragic result of bad decision-making on the part of two groups: by our society regarding how to deal with young offenders combined and by the young people themselves. On both fronts, the costs are enormous and the results frequently are far from what was expected or desired. The film is beautifully made, captivating and thought-provoking. We highly recommend it. David and Jannie Spain
So touching, tender and tough. I hope lots of young people see this film, and, whether or not they are at risk, have compassion for those who are stranded in this way. Beautiful film as well, the camera work bringing one in close to these young men, and reflecting their illusive and fragile hopes and possibilities.
A powerful insight into the minds and hearts of youth (now adults) who have made grave mistakes and how those individuals have matured. An important documentary to support reforming the criminal justice system with regard to minors.