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Young artists in Michigan detention facilities make themselves heard in new documentary

Jan 4, 2017

There are more than 1,600 juveniles now living in state facilities in Michigan.

Most young people in residential treatment or detention centers are people of color. Many often become defined by their experience, both legally and socially.

A new documentary film Determined 2 Make It tells their stories and shows how art, music, photography and more can be powerful forms of self-expression for incarcerated youth.

Filmmaker Juan Javier Pescador joined Stateside to talk about the film's inspiration. 

"We wanted to have a documentary in which the voices of the residents could be heard," said Pescador. "We felt that the juvenile justice system does not provide an opportunity for youth to be heard and to be seen. And we wanted to film inside these facilities and make the documentary space that [the] youth could use to express their opinions, their hopes, their aspirations and their dreams."

One of the main focuses of the film is the Youth Arts Alliance (YAA) and the role it plays in the lives of young people living in juvenile detention facilities. The YAA helps them express themselves through various forms of art including music, visual arts and theater. 

Listen to the full interview above to hear more about the young people who were part of the documentary and the mural project they worked on during filming.

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TRAILER: "Determined 2 Make It"