ComingSoon is premiering the exclusive trailer and key art for the upcoming documentary Fireboys, directed by Jake Hochendoner and Drew Dickler and featuring Jesus “Chuy” Hernandez and Antoinio Wellington.
Fireboys is the untold story of young men incarcerated in California who are offered a way out: by fighting wildfires. Immersive and personal, this coming-of-age story examines a correctional path that is both hopeful and destructive.
As these seasonal blazes rage across the state, over 3,000 professional firefighters and 3,000 volunteer inmates battle the fires for many months on end, sometimes into the winter. Pine Grove firefighters have fought in all of the deadliest and largest fires in California’s recent history, including the Camp and Mendocino Complex fires of 2018. Without incarcerated firefighters, California would not be able to manage the growing intensity of fire season. The employment of inmate firefighters– and the opportunities and challenges that await them upon their release from prison– are at the heart of Fireboys.
Check out the exclusive trailer below:
Per the filmmakers, in the era of mass incarceration, do programs like the one at Pine Grove represent a shift in the criminal justice paradigm from retribution towards rehabilitation? Or are they manipulating a vulnerable population of laborers in order to address the crises of longer and more destructive fire seasons? And what responsibility, if any, does this system have to support formerly incarcerated individuals upon their release?
Fireboys attempts to offer an accurate view into two people’s experiences, both positive and negative, as they navigate the challenges of coming of age inside the American criminal justice system.
In the United States, we are witnessing a change in philosophy towards rehabilitation, one that questions the long-held belief that crime can be reduced through longer and harsher sentences. This change is evident in the passage of new laws such as California’s Proposition 57, which prevents youth from being charged as adults for their crimes. These are encouraging trends, but they also point to the need for a greater understanding of how such rehabilitative programs work, as well as a comprehensive study of what makes some programs more effective than others at reducing recidivism.
California’s juvenile justice system has been lauded for many of its reforms in the past decade, including reducing prison sentences for juvenile offenders, changing sentencing laws, creating a path for youth offenders to expunge their criminal record following release, and drastically reducing the number of young people inside the system.
1091 Pictures presents a co-production of Divided Line Cinema and Deep Dive Films, in association with StoryLens Pictures. The documentary is produced by Hochendoner, Dickler, Geoff Pingree, and David Sherwin.
Fireboys will be available to purchase or rent digitally on August 3, 2021.