Only in Los Angeles are prisoners afforded the luxury of a two-picture deal. Antonio, Jared, and Juan sign up for a 20-week screenwriting course and wind up not only writing a short, but starring in their own documentary feature! Ben Lear’s documentary never once questions the guilt of its subjects: three teens facing life sentences, all of them between the ages of 14 and 17 when their violent crimes were committed. Nor is there any disagreement with the film’s ultimate conclusion that minors tried as adults deserve a chance at parole after 15 years. The concept is so sound that in 2014, around the time Lear — son of premier sitcom merchant Norman — began work on the documentary, California Senate Bill 260 became law. Still, Lear is guilty of stacking the deck in favor of his trio of killers and/or attempted murderers. Friends and family profess on-screen loyalty, but Lear is not particularly concerned with putting a human face on the victims. Only one, a paralyzed young woman, is given ample screen time. The pullback to reveal the wheelchair that a drive-by shooting forever placed her in will stay in the memory long after the boy’s 15 minutes of combined fame (not to run concurrently) has faded. (2016) — Scott Marks
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