At Homeboy Industries, former gang members are placed in jobs, not jails.
DIRECTED BY FREIDA MOCK (U.S., World Premiere)
Saturday, April 28, 9:30 p.m.
TIFF Bell Lightbox 1 (350 King Street West)
Sunday, April 30, 6:45 p.m.
Cumberland 2 (159 Cumberland Street)
Saturday, May 5, 4 p.m.
Isabel Bader Theatre (93 Charles Street West)
According to Jesuit priest Father Greg Boyle, “nothing stops a bullet like a job.” It’s a viewpoint that’s been adopted as the mission statement of Homeboy Industries, the Los Angeles organization Boyle founded in 1992 to help ex-gang members and felons re-integrate into society. G-Dog is an examination of the daily operations at Homeboy, which, in addition to providing everything from free career advice classes to AA meetings, includes a bakery, silk-screening shop, tattoo-removal clinic, and the Homegirl Cafe. Nearly everyone who works at Homeboy—with the exception of Father Boyle himself—has done time. Now they hold jobs, pay taxes, and share jokes and hugs with Boyle, who they affectionately call “G.”
It’s initially hard to tell why director Freida Mock wanted to make G-Dog, as a 2007 documentary about Boyle and Homeboy Industries already exists. (That one’s narrated by Martin Sheen.) But if her goal was simply to bring Boyle’s story to a larger audience, it’s certainly one worth re-telling. While no feat of documentary filmmaking in and of itself—the narrative lacks structure, the cinematography is amateurish, and the film fails to answer broader questions about charity and religion—G-Dog manages to convey the beauty of Boyle’s message of acceptance and the profound effect he has had on the lives of countless former gang members. For anyone who voted in favour of the Conservatives’ omnibus crime bill, G-Dog should be mandatory viewing.