Press Release


Documentary, 32 minutes & 40 seconds

With unprecedented access to youth serving their sentences in the Juvenile Justice System, DETERMINED 2 MAKE IT features African American, Latino and White teens engaging in innovative art projects in which they express themselves and reflect upon their life experiences. With the collaboration of artist activists from the outside, these young people not only reshape their local landscape and defy labels attached to them by the system and society, but also share their hopes and dreams for a brighter future.

“When we think about our imagination we aren’t locked up, we’re anywhere we want to be.”  –  Mary Thiefels, artist            

  1.  What is so unique about this documentary?

  • The filmmakers had unprecedented access to youth serving their sentences in the Juvenile Justice System.
  • All the music in Determined 2 Make It was performed and created by the boys and girls of the Southeast Michigan Juvenile Justice System who participated in Youth Arts Alliance! music workshops. To listen to the featured songs “Determined to Make It” and “Chain Link Fence” and “Road to Recovery,” go to
  • Murals and large-scale mosaics created by the youth were among the innovative collaborative art projects that were installed in juvenile detention facilities and the Livingston County Juvenile Court.
  1. What are the unusual discoveries of the youth featured in this documentary?

  • The youth discovered hidden talents.
  • They learned that they could accomplish a lot through collaboration with their peers and that taking constructive risks through art-making can relieve stress and lead to self-discovery and self-expression.
  • The youth also shared a sense of pride and were happy to be recognized for something positive instead of what is documented on record.
  1. What is Youth Arts Alliance!?

Youth Arts Alliance! is an organization that provides creative arts workshops inside juvenile detention and residential treatment facilities in Southeast Michigan. Beyond the commitment to provide arts programming to youth who have very little access to arts resources, Youth Arts Alliance! establishes creative spaces where youth are encouraged to take positive, artistic risks while exploring the issues that have brought them into the Juvenile Justice system. As a result, youth have shared that they feel safe and free to express themselves.

  1. The Statistics

According to the National Center for Juvenile Justice (2013):

  • There are over 54,000 Juveniles in Residential Placement nationwide.
  • Over 7700 female Juveniles are in Residential Placement nationwide.
  • 54% of the Juvenile population in Michigan is African American.
  • Michigan has at least 1,683 Juveniles affiliated in State facilities.
  1. Film Festivals & Awards

  • Revolution Me Film Festival 2016, Brooklyn, New York, August 21.
  • COMMFFEST (Global) Community Film Festival 2016, Toronto, Canada, October 11-16.
  • International North American Film Festival 2016, Dearborn, Michigan, October 16.
  • People’s Choice Award, International North American Film Festival 2016, Dearborn, Michigan.
  • Award of Recognition, Accolade Global Film Competition 2016.

Film by Gabrielle Pescador & Juan Javier Pescador. Produced by Pescador Arte, LLC & Youth Arts Alliance! Soundtrack created and performed by the boys and girls of the Southeast Michigan Juvenile Justice System in Youth Arts Alliance! music workshops facilitated by Radiant City. Copyright, 2016.

Contact: Gabrielle Pescador, Producer

Press Kit:  Determined 2 Make It – Press Kit