Paper Tigers

This documentary chronicles a year in the lives of six Walla Walla, Washington students in Lincoln Alternative High School. Written and directed by James Redford, we follow these troubled students who are the subjects of an experiment in behavior modification.

This World Premier was submitted to the 2015 Seattle International Film Festival from the United States. We follow six veterans of substance abuse, truancy and other behavior problems. Their high school principal had learned about ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) and wants to do something about it. He feels these youngsters lack a stable adult relationship in their lives.

We see:
  • A girl who was raped on her way to school. She fears all men.
  • A boy whose mother left his father; he lashes out at everyone.
  • Another neglected boy who discovers that his mother suffers from porphyria (look it up).
  • A sweet girl thrown out of her mother's house with no place to go.
  • A cheery young gal with a disease who says isn't as bad as it could be, so she feels lucky.
  • A boy whose father abandoned him at an early age but he still sees him as a role model.
Their first lesson is to see pictures of their brains and understand that much of their behavior is beyond their control. Their second lesson is to learn how to trust this amazing staff, from the principal (who greets them by name at the front door with a handshake and a hug), and the school counsellors who create a health clinic for them right on campus. They understand that it's next to impossible for one of these youngsters to keep an appointment across town with no ride and no bus fare.

The contrast between the first day of school and Graduation Day is astonishing and the statistics are impressive. Our fingers are crossed.