Travis is one of five juvenile offenders followed for nearly 20 years as they grow from boys to men. In 1994 they were incarcerated 15-to-18 year olds: Caucasian, Mexican-American, Native American and African-American. As kids they committed serious crimes: murder, kidnapping and assaults. Who have them become? A reality check from their point of view. A condemnation of the prison system.
Dir. Heather Dew Oaksen
Eighteen years ago, filmmaker Heather Dew Oaksen taught a video skills class at Green Hill, a maximum security prison for juveniles in Chehalis, WA. There she got to know the young men you will meet in MINOR DIFFERENCES. At the time, they were boys between the ages of 16 and 19.
In creating their pieces, the boys momentarily shed their label of “offender” or “gang banger” and revealed themselves to be engaging young people who aspired to stay out of jail and lead satisfying lives. They still had hopes for the future. Oaksen learned that despite their youthful mistakes, they were smart, likable individuals, and she kept in contact. MINOR DIFFERENCES is an update on the boys, now men in their mid 30’s.
Today, they express the sincere desire to lead good lives and care for their children, yet, as their stories show, they have never been able to overcome their early prison experience. Oaksen’s current film intermixes footage from recent interviews and her original work with the Green Hill boys. In their own frank words, the young men and their families describe the world of obstacles and problems the teenagers faced as they tried to stay out of jail.