The day got off to a bad start. It began with me being no show to a scheduled interview with Darius Clark Monroe, a young filmmaker who's recently released documentary Evolution of a Criminal is receiving great reviews. Not being a film critic, my interest in Darius Clark Monroe had more to do with his personal story and less to do with the making of the film. But five minutes into our conversation – we ended up conducting a telephone interview – it was clear that Darius Clark Monroe had discovered through the making this film a way to use media to heal. And so I listed as he delved into the making of a documentary that morphed into a model for restorative justice.
Darius began by giving brief background facts. He was involved in a bank robbery at the age of 16. Arrested, convicted and sentenced – he had served his time and was able to go to college and graduate school. Several years after his years in prison were behind him, he found himself in line at his local bank when suddenly he experienced something he'd never experienced – he had a panic attack.
Darius wasn't sure why he'd had the attack at that time but he was sure that the attack was somehow related to the unresolved guilt and trauma associated with the crime he committed and the time he served.
He told me that it was that panic attack that led to the making of Evolution of a Criminal – a documentary that took seven years to make in part because of the emotional terrain covered in the film. “For two to three years, I worked with family members who were devastated by the actions I took at 16 years old.”, Monroe said. Then he went on to explain that the making of the film became a form of therapy. It led him to reconnect with people he had harmed even some of the people who were in the bank he robbed.
This interview is slated to be a two-part story. The film will be shown in Beverly Hills on October 21, 2014. I plan to be in the audience and to report back after I've seen the documentary.
More to come tomorrow.