Kids in Jail

46 min. Dist. by National Film Board of Canada. 2015. $195. ISBN unavail.
Gr 9 Up—At Burnaby Youth Custody Services Centre in British Columbia, Canada, the boys and girls are separated (as in most youth lockdown areas), though they may see each other in passing, through the windows and even interact on special occasions. This documentary focuses on Diamond and Phoenix, whose relationship consists of many years of contraband notes, reading each other's lips, and a once a year Christmas sing-along, where they stand next to each other and hold hands. Along with the general teen relationship angst and increased drama of the detention center—Diamond gets written up and has to spend time alone in her cell for having a contraband photograph of Phoenix—there is a genuineness to the teens' ability to care for each other and express their feelings, a lifesaver for both even though they've never met on the "outs" or had an actual conversation. Most touching is the song Phoenix writes for Diamond. The film follows the arc of their relationship, including what happens as they are released.
VERDICT Not essential, yet teens and adults interested in lockdown culture will enjoy and gain insight from this film.

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