On Monday, usedview.com attended a screening of “Short Term 12.” In the film’s opening scene, the Short Term 12 line staff shoots the breeze outside the building’s front door early one morning. Mason (John Gallagher) welcomes new supervisor Nate (Rami Malek) to the facility by recounting a particularly embarrassing anecdote about one of his own first days at Short Term 12. Their relaxed chat is interrupted suddenly by screams as one of the home’s young intakes bursts through the door and runs for the street, shrieking wildly. Episodes like this, as Nate (and the audience) will soon learn, are all just part of a regular day for the line staff and motley crew of troubled teens at Short Term 12.
Front and center of the action are supervisors Grace and Mason, who are endearing as an awkward-sweet couple struggling to balance work with new developments in their personal relationship. Tensions escalate when the sarcastic, moody Jayden (Kaitlyn Dever) arrives at the facility. The teenaged girl’s dark fragility stirs something within Grace, who, like many of the film’s characters, struggles to move forward in spite of a difficult past. Stellar writing and performances bring depth and humor to what could be a too-somber tale. The fact that Cretton based the script on his own experiences makes for a story and relationships that feel lived-in and authentic—it’s a slice of life not often depicted on film, and certainly worth a watch.
Recently, outdoor film lovers attended a special screening of “Short Term 12” as a part of the Rooftop Films screening series at The Old American Can Factory in Brooklyn. The non-profit program, which screens underground films during the summer at various outdoor venues throughout the city, teamed up with The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the event. Written and directed by newcomer Destin Daniel Cretton, “Short Term 12” has already racked up major awards at both SXSW and the Los Angeles Film Festival. Cretton used his own experience working at a foster care facility for struggling teenagers to inform his script, which follows the travails of two supervisors (Brie Larson and John Gallagher Jr.) at such a facility.
Actor Keith Stanfield, who plays the character of troubled teen Marcus, attested to the lengths the cast went through to bring truth to Cretton’s script. In preparing for his weighty role, Stanfield “thought about what it took to overcome my own struggles, and the journey that I went through to overcome all the negative things that happened in my life.” Brie Larson, who stars in film as facility counselor Grace, spent time “shadowing a woman who had been in the field for over 20 years.” Larson admits that she was moved by the interactions she witnessed between this counselor and the teens at the foster home: “Sometimes the sound of love takes different shapes, and it’s not always about having a calm voice. Sometimes it takes force to push those kids…The most important thing to me was to do right by these men and women who are in this field, and by the kids who are in this facility.”
“Short Term 12” will open in select theaters August 23rd.