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Thoughts From "Lost for Life" Director Joshua Rofé

It’s been a great pleasure working with young filmmaker Joshua Rofé on "Lost for Life."  I wanted to give Josh the chance to express his thoughts directly, as we heading into today’s premiere.  Here’s Josh’s take:

From the beginning of my career I’ve felt a calling to bring attention to what I consider our most important issues, which are often related to poverty.  This project was something that I felt had to be done.  If I were in the same position, I would want the story to be told.  My hope and aim for "Lost for Life" is to connect emotionally with the American audience, as well as international audiences interested in the American justice system, and ultimately to change the dialogue on this juvenile justice issue.  I’m grateful SnagFilms will be distributing "Lost for Life" to what we hope will be a broad audience.  We aim to engage with human rights organizations and the faith and religious communities, with screenings and post-screening discussions as a starting point for community engagement and dialogue.   Additionally, I’m hopeful this film will engage universities and law schools who would be interested in including the film as part of their curriculum.  I strongly believe "Lost for Life" has bright prospects and great potential to ignite this conversation.

Yesterday while on Capital Hill I had the opportunity through AFI Docs to meet and discuss some of these complex issues with staffers for Congressmen Bobby Scott (VA) and John Conyers (MI), and for Senators Mark Udall (CO) and Saxby Chambliss (GA).  Irrespective of their positions on the issue of juvenile life without parole, all of them showed strong receptivity to the film, and our attempt to reflect the nuances of the issue and the individual tragedies.  I felt I was experiencing the type of dialogue that I hope to spark within the nation at large—one with conflicting emotions with regard to the offenders themselves and critical contemplation on what is just and decent.  I then had a wonderful dinner and conversation with California Congressmen Raul Ruiz and Tony Cardenas, who have a deep interest in juvenile justice.

Today I am meeting with a number of administration officials at the White House to discuss the issue and our film  It’s a truly surreal and thrilling experience to receive an invitation to discuss this film at the White House and to serve as a representative to those children, men and women for whom this film is dedicated.  My journey to the White House concludes my nearly five years of dedication to Lost for Life, before the film’s premier tomorrow evening.  It’s my hope that its debut will mark the beginning of a new chapter of my endeavor to bring attention to a critical part of our notions of justice. 

The National Portrait Gallery at F Street between 7th and 8th Streets, in Washington DC, will host the premiere of "Lost for Life" today, Saturday, June 22, at 5:30pm with producers Ted Leonsis and Rick Allen.  A very impressive panel discussion by experts on varying sides of the policy debate about lifetime incarceration of juveniles found guilty of murder will follow the screening.  For more information and to watch the trailer, click here.  To purchase tickets, visit here.