Over two decades ago, a group of teenagers made the choice to engage in a series of robberies, not understanding that the serious consequences of their actions would alter the rest of their lives. Although no one was physically injured they received stiff prison sentences of up to 500 years.
The Cooler Bandits is a feature length documentary film which follows the lives of Frankie, Donovan, Charlie and Poochie, four friends in Akron, Ohio, who as teens in 1991 committed a series of restaurant robberies. Caught up in the wave of over sentencing, mass incarceration and a system designed to brand criminals felons for life this film documents their personal journeys of survival, redemption and reintegration into society.
Director John Lucas attempts to peel away the statistics of mass incarceration and bring forward the complex humanities of four men who inhabit these statistics. Over a period of twenty years, visiting them in jail and corresponding through letters, he watched the boys grow into men. As difficult as their lives were, he admired the close bonds they had with each other.
This film seeks neither to apologize for their actions nor excuse their past; the director only wishes to represent how certain lives get constructed and in the end how belonging, if only to each other, matters.
Cooler Bandits Free Screening
The Cooler Bandits will be screened on the campus of Pitzer College in the Benson Auditorium on Thursday • May 15th • 1pm during Graduation week.
Q&A to follow with the director and 3 men featured in the film.
Free and open to the public!
Pitzer College – Benson Auditorium
1050 N Mills Ave, Claremont, CA 91711
“I have a dozen reasons to tell you why this is real, but I’ll just give you one – these four men went into prison at 18 and 19 years old. They maintained their friendship, their sense of self, and really their commitment to believing that they were more than their worst moments. But this documentary is real because it just presents their life. It’s not a pitch, it’s just the world that you’ve ignored, the humanity that we’ve ignored.”
– R. Dwayne Betts
Soros Justice Fellow and member of President Obama’s Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention