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Call Me AWOL

“Call Me AWOL”
After a failed prison escape, Seventeen-year-old Lance receives a visit from his social worker at the correctional facility. Her terms are simple, keep his head down, stay out of trouble, finish his time or face finishing his sentence at the adult penitentiary. For an indigenous youth who has spent his entire life institutionalized, the prospect of more time in prison has become routine, but when an opportunity for freedom arises, what’s another six months in jail? Call Me AWOL is a film by Canadian BIPOC writer/director Geordie Trifa, inspired by his years as a mentor to street and gang kids in the Canadian prairies. Running a home where he lived with five at-risk youth, he witnessed firsthand the dynamics of a child welfare system that spit out society's most vulnerable and filled Canadian prisons with adults who first entered the Canadian justice system as early as the age of ten. Call Me AWOL was brought to life by indigenous producing team Pieter Romer (Nisga'a), Rob Labas (Metis), and The Harold Greenberg Fund.
From 2009 to 2011, I worked as a live-in mentor with at-risk youth; living in the group home seven days a week, I would witness the devastating effects of our country's child welfare and youth justice system. Kids left so far behind their peers that none of them would ever recover; ten years later, there has not been one high school graduation. Of the ten youth that lived with me, three are in prison for murder, four are in prison for various felonies, two are struggling to hold down jobs, and one works at Walmart. My two years of living with these youth were some of the best and worst experiences I've had in my life. My time there shaped me as a person, and those kids taught me profound lessons about myself, for which I will be forever grateful. To this day, I receive calls from prison, and it's that connection built over those two years that inspires me to tell these stories. ' Call Me AWOL' Tells the story of Lance Bear, a seventeen-year-old boy who has just been moved from prison to an open custody facility to serve out his six-month sentence. The film takes an intimate look at the world of Canada's youth justice system, one that is disproportionately indigenous and filled with kids from the child welfare system. When we first meet Lance, he is fresh off his second escape attempt from the open custody facility. He sits in a meeting with his social worker Sally, reminded of his transgressions and the impact his choices will have on his life. The conversation feels like a broken record; swap the authority figure, foster mom, group home staff, principal, social worker, or parole officer. The result is the same, another person passing him and his problems onto someone else. 'Call Me AWOL' is a coming-of-age story in extreme circumstances. It's what youthful rebellion looks like when you grow up in the system, without family, without support. It's an intimate look weight of decisions when you have no parachute, no soft place to land. It's been ten years since my experience working in that system, and since then, nothing has changed. The boys that lived with me have their names tattooed on my arm; our relationships lasted even with the barrier of prison walls, and I hope that stories like this can make it beyond the wall as well.
11 Minutes
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Age Rating
Geordie Trifa


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