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"The Box" - New Short Film Shows NY Kids in Solitary

A 5 minute animated short film, called "The Box", recently won a well-deserved award from the New Orleans Film Festival. "The Box" is directed by Michael Schiller and produced in part by the Center for Investigative Journalism

The film follows Ismael “Izzy” Nazario, a 16 year old child who spends 300 days in solitary confinement while imprisoned in Rikers Island. This time was done before Izzy was convicted of a crime. Izzy's mother had fallen victim to cancer before his arrest, leading Izzy to become less engaged in school and try to escape a suffocating situation at home by falling in with friends in the street. This lead to an arrest for theft.

"The Box" uses powerful animation, scrawled in black and white like a sketching on a concrete wall. The images are reinforced by a voice over from Izzy, who describes confrontations with older prisoners who try to steal his shoes, how the ink on letters he received would run and smudge from sweat caused by the insufferable heat in the box. 

Viewers see the damage caused by putting a child into a 6' x 8' metal cage and keeping him there for a year. Black dots start to trail through Izzy's vision. Voices from prisoner across the hall seem to echo inside Izzy's head. As time goes on, Izzy makes the time pass by having full-blown conversations with himself. It is hard to understand how forcing a child into these circumstances will provide any benefit to society or the victim of that child's mild crimes.

"The Box" is a film worth watching. You can view the whole thing by following this link.

And Izzy? Despite the awful circumstances he contended with, he's doing quite well. Mr Nazario is now a case worker for children coming out of Riker's Island.