Troop 1500: Girl Scouts Beyond Bars
This at-times heart-wrenching and heart-warming documentary follows the eight to 10 Girl Scouts of Austin, Texas' Troop 1500 who visit the Gatesville Women's Prison once a month to see their incarcerated mothers. Inspired by the Girl Scouts Behind Bars program started by the National Institute of Justice and the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland, social worker and trooper leader Julia Camp and social worker Dr. Darlene Grant work with Troop 1500 for one reason and one reason alone: to strengthen a weak or nonexistent mother-daughter bond. What directors Ellen Spiro and Karen Bernstein sympathetically capture is how difficult and emotionally fraught that effort is, following these cherubic-faced kids from their guardians to the prison and their short, 4-6 hours spent with a woman some of them don't know very well. Be forewarned: in a stroke of emotionally devastating brilliance, the filmmakers allow the daughters to become ethnographic filmmakers themselves, interviewing their mothers on camera about life in prison, the decisions they made that landed them there, what they think about while inside, and what, if any, thoughts and hopes they have for the future, and the naked vulnerability elicited is rare in even the most probing documentaries you've seen.