'Short Term 12' explores love amid the turmoil of foster care

Fri Aug 23, 2013 9:41pm EDT
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By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - America's foster care system is the unlikely setting for a love story in "Short Term 12," an independent film that examines a young couple's relationship amid the troubles, trauma and camaraderie of teenagers in foster care.

Written and directed by filmmaker Destin Cretton, "Short Term 12," which opened in U.S. theaters on Friday, follows social workers at a foster care facility as they confront the everyday challenges of working with abandoned and abused children.

The film is centered on Grace, played by Brie Larson, a social worker who finds her own trauma from sexual abuse creeping up as she connects with the adolescents in her care.

Cretton, 34, told Reuters that he wanted a central character who shared not just a similar background to that of the children, but "something so intense that she has not even come close to dealing with it."

"All the ancillary storylines all serve one single purpose, to see how they affect Grace and to see how she reacts to them. Every scene with a kid is either pushing Grace to feel that she can do this, or causing her to feel she can't," Cretton said.

The director, who was inspired to write "Short Term 12" from his experiences of working in a California group home facility in his first job after college, told Reuters he wanted to avoid casting judgment on foster homes.

"This movie is not meant to be an umbrella statement on the current state of the foster care system. There are definitely highlights of certain complications there, but our hope is that anybody can connect to this movie and relate it to their own life," the director said.


Cast members Brie Larson and John Gallagher Jr. pose for a portrait while promoting their upcoming movie "Short Term 12" in Los Angeles, California August 6, 2013. Picture taken August 6, 2013. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni