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Filmmaking program lets incarcerated kids tell their stories

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It's lights, camera, action - but it's not your typical movie set. Films by Youth Inside (FYI) paid a visit to the Department of Youth Affairs in Mangilao.

"I think this is a population that's misunderstood and underserved and invisible," filmmaker Alex Munoz told KUAM News. "Everyone makes mistakes. I also think that everyone deserves a second chance." And so that's Munoz's cue. For the last two weeks, Munoz, the founder of the FYI project has been working with 13 DYA clients to help them tell their stories.  "What we specialize in is empowering incarcerated youth by letting them tell their personal stories through filmmaking," he shared.

The film workshop taught the boys how to write, produce, and act in their short film that focuses on sensitive issues affecting them and their peers. Their subject: underage drinking and its consequences.

"And what it does is it helps them to gain perspective on their lives. And usually when youth tell their own stories it in a way renders the past unrepeatable," he said.

The end goal is reduced recidivism. "In California for example, the recidivism rate hovers around 55%. And we did a tracking program and we found that the recidivism rate for the youth that go through our program is under than 10%. So we managed to really put a dent in recidivism in California," he said.

While the program is grant funded, Munoz hopes to make it more sustainable with the help of local talents like directors Don and Kel Muna. The brothers are co-founders of the Guam International Film Festival. "It's a grant through GovGuam that's focused on empowering youth and addressing substance abuse. But we also have funding from Sony Pictures Entertainment, Seagate Technology, Volkswagen and the Rockmand Foundation, he said.

Next week, the boys will be able to view the final product in a closed screening. Munoz hopes the final product may also be screened at GIFF, the Festival of Pacific Arts, and festivals abroad.

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