With just a handful of short films and one full length feature to his credit, Maui native Destin Daniel Cretton’s second feature film Short Term 12 made a huge splash last week at the SXSW Film Festival by picking up the Grand Jury Award and Audience Award in the Narrative Feature Competition category.
Short Term 12 is based off of Cretton’s own experience working in a group home for troubled teenagers–an experience that has stuck with him ever since, “It was by far, one of the scariest experiences I’ve ever had – at first. I was really afraid of doing something wrong and messing up these kids more than they already were. But after a month or so, I fell in love with it.” It was so impactful that Cretton first made a short film bearing the same name that debuted at Sundance in 2009 and won the Jury Prize in that category. His first full length feature I Am Not a Hipster premiered at last year’s Sundance and also played at last year’s HIFF.
Synopsis from SXSW:
“Short Term 12″ is told through the eyes of Grace (Brie Larson), a twenty-something supervisor at a foster-care facility for at-risk teenagers. Passionate and tough, Grace is a formidable caretaker of the kids in her charge – and in love with her long-term boyfriend and co-worker, Mason (John Gallagher Jr). But Grace’s own difficult past – and the surprising future that suddenly presents itself – throw her into unforeseen confusion, made all the sharper with the arrival of a new intake at the facility: a gifted but troubled teenage girl with whom Grace has a charged connection. While the subject matter is complex, this lovingly realized film finds truth – and humor – in unexpected places.
HIFF Programming Director Anderson Le, who was on the ground at SXSW and saw Short Term 12, had very high praise, “I saw Short Term 12 at SXSW and it was hands down, the best film there. It totally deserved the grand prize for best narrative feature AND the audience award.” Le hopes to get the film for HIFF’s fall showcase and have Cretton participate in HIFF’s newly formed Creative Lab series.
Though there is no distribution plan for Short Term 12 yet, after receiving a large amount of critical acclaim at SXSW, there is currently a bidding war for the distribution rights to Short Term 12. Hopefully that means we’ll be able to see Cretton’s film sometime later this year at a theater near you.