FEATURED FILMMAKER: PRODUCER/DIRECTOR
Heather Ross spent much of her childhood tagging along to film
classes with her graduate student mother. After obtaining
bachelor’s degrees in Film/Video and Psychology at UC Santa Cruz,
she produced segments on all 7 continents as associate producer of
the feature documentary, Naked World (HBO). On Mean
Girls,(Discovery Health), she worked with a diverse group of girls,
from cheerleaders to cholas, whose stories illustrate a hidden
culture of girls’ aggression. She has gone on to direct and produce
programs for Discovery Channel, A & E, MTV, FX and Fox
including the acclaimed series Intervention. GIRLS ON THE WALL is
her first feature.
ABOUT THE FILM: GIRLS ON THE WALL
The teenage girls of Warrenville Prison are not your average
delinquents. Having “graduated” from juvie to prison, these are the
kids most likely to remain in the correctional system their whole
lives. They are also some of the sharpest and most irrepressible
young women you’ll meet. When the girls of this heartland Illinois
prison are given a most unlikely shot at redemption— the chance to
tell their own stories in a musical based on their lives— they’re
challenged to re-live the events that led up to their crimes,
reclaim their humanity, and find their own exuberant voices in a
first step toward breaking free from the prison system.
WHITNEY (17) – The eyes and ears of Warrenville, and our
unexpected heroine. Intimidating, self-isolating, and one of
Warrenville’s longest-term inmates, Whitney is infamous for a crime
she won’t talk about. Despite herself, she soon emerges as one of
the most powerful storytellers in the group. Her writing introduces
us to her charming, drug-addled father, a man whose mistakes paved
the way to his daughter’s heinous crime. As the performance
approaches, Whitney’s growing voice may lead both of them to
confront the past and try to move forward.
ROSA (17) – is a hot-tempered girl who taunts guards and
inmates alike. Released from Warrenville, she returns weeks later
after getting nearly killed in a knife fight. With a constant
reminder of her temper carved into her throat, she is forced to
grapple with the sexual abuse that is the source of her anger.
CHRISTINA (18) – is a friendly, popular girl whose only
crime is running away. Drawn into street life by her mother’s crack
habit, she’s spent most of her life in jails and foster placements.
When she gets a chance for adoption by a wealthy Christian family,
she jumps at it– but can’t reconcile her new upper-middle class
life with her loyalty to her mother’s world.
When the girls hit the stage in front of their families, prison
staff and utter strangers, hitting the notes isn’t important: it’s
their chance to seize their stories and tell them to the world. For
some, the musical will be a first step in a back-and-forth struggle
to stay out of the system. For Whitney, it may be a lifesaver.
Given unprecedented access to this juvenile correctional facility
by the State of Illinois, the powerful characters of GIRLS ON THE
WALL will surprise you with their candor, intimacy, and unexpected
sense of humor. Together, they illustrate the power of story to
illuminate the darkest secrets, and to understand the most tangled
GIRLS ON THE WALL is directed and produced by Heather Ross
& Sincerely Films in association with Independent Television
Service and PB& J Television.
“This moving doc about girls at a juvenile detention center…
demonstrates the healing power of expressing their pent-up emotions
and exposing their vulnerability” – Laura Baginsky, Time Out
“An emotionally moving piece speaking to art as a way to heal” –
Chicago International Film Festival, Special Mention Jury Award
Pick of the Festival — Roger Ebert for the Chicago Sun Times,
Robert Nott for the Santa Fe New Mexican, Time Out Chicago
WEST COAST PREMIERE
January 13, 2010 at the American Cinematheque’s Egyptian Theater in
8pm, preceded at 7pm with live music