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Midday Movies: ‘Short Term 12’

SDSU Grads Have Indie Breakout Film

Behind the scenes: "Short Term 12"

Destin Cretton, Director/writer of "Short Term 12"
Ron Najor, Producer of "Short Term 12"
Beth Accomando, KPBS Arts and Culture Reporter


On this month’s edition of the Midday Movies, KPBS arts and culture reporter Beth Accomando looks to an indie hit with San Diego ties -- "Short Term 12" (opening in San Diego on September 13).

"Short Term 12" recently won the grand jury and audience award at the SXSW Film Festival. It opened in LA and New York last month. Its director Destin Cretton and producer Ron Najor, are both SDSU graduates. Beth Accomando has been following the progress of these young filmmakers for almost a decade and showed the short film that inspired "Short Term 12" at her 2008 Film School Confidential Student Showcase. Beth sat down with the filmmakers at the KPBS studios to talk about their latest success.

"It’s not often that I get to follow the evolution of a filmmaker from the very beginning," Accomando said, "But with Destin Cretton I actually had a part in setting him on this course. It was at my Film School Confidential Showcase in 2001 that Cretton saw a film by SDSU professor Greg Durbin. Cretton wanted to make a film but didn’t know where to start so he contacted Durbin who invited him over for an impromptu introduction to filmmaking. The following year Cretton had his own film, "Longbranch" in my showcase."

Next week, Cretton’s indie feature "Short Term 12" opens in San Diego. When the short film that inspired the feature came out in 2008.Tthe tagline at that time read: “A film about kids and the grown-ups who hit them.” It focused on Denim, the supervisor in a residential facility housing 15 kids who are all affected by child abuse and neglect. The 22-minute short won the Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking at Sundance 2009. (You can read his blog posts he did for Cinema Junkie about his Sundance experience.)

For the feature version of "Short Term 12," Cretton changed the gender of the main character from male to female but still drew on his own experiences working with troubled teens. All of Cretton's films reveal a common theme of community and how people connect, sometimes in the most unexpected ways.

While waiting for the funding for "Short Term 12," Cretton and Ron Najor produced "I Am Not A Hipster."

There will be an Evening Edition feature on the filmmakers Friday, Sept. 6.

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