Independent Lens "Evolution of a Criminal"

(Rochester, NY) – How does a 16-year-old evolve into a bank robber? In Evolution of a Criminal,filmmaker Darius Clark Monroe searches for the answers — about himself. Years after his release from prison, Monroe returns to his old neighborhood to speak with family and friends, along with classmates, teachers, law enforcement officials and the innocent victims in the bank on the fateful day of the robbery. An honest journey of reflection and a personal search for redemption, Evolution of a Criminal, executive produced by Spike Lee, premieres Monday, January 12, 2015 at 10 p.m. on WXXI-TV.

A native of Houston, Texas, Monroe had a happy childhood with his mother, stepfather and close-knit extended family. However, as he grew older and saw his parents struggling to make ends meet, Monroe’s vision of the world changed: “I went from being a carefree and joyous child to becoming acutely aware of the fact that the world was not as I saw it. And the burden that my parents had was slowly trickling down to me.” Devastated after burglars made off with the family’s electronics and other possessions, Monroe stole replacement VCRs from the big-box store where he worked. As his parents’ finances continued to spiral downward, Monroe and two friends plotted and subsequently carried out an armed bank robbery.

Placing his own culpability at the heart of the story, Monroe pulls no punches, using dramatized scenes of the bank robbery to capture the tragically bad decisions he and his friends made, and to bring home the terror of those they held at gunpoint. More than just a tale of a good kid gone wrong, Evolution of a Criminal is filled with compassion for human frailty and the knowledge that a person is not forever defined by their mistakes.

Visit the Evolution of a Criminal companion website (http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/evolution-of-acriminal/) which features information about the film, including an interview with the filmmaker and resources pertaining to the film’s subject matter. The site also features a Talkback section for viewers to share their ideas and opinions, preview clips of the film, and more.

Pictured: Filmmaker Darius Clark Monroe as a baby with his mother, Sigrid Tillman.
Credit: Credit: Courtesy of Darius Clark Monroe

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