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V.I. Gangs Documentary to Showcase at International Film Fest

The hard-hitting "Gangs in Paradise" documentary, produced by Lambert Media Team for Project Safe Neighborhoods’ second annual anti-gang conference, has been selected from 1,700 other entries to showcase next month at the Bahamas International Film Festival.

Several of the final 63 films chosen are making their world or international premiere, and almost all are new to the Bahamian scene, according to festival officials. Film genres include action drama, comedy, documentary, drama, fantasy and thriller.

"It’s an honor for everyone involved — not just for Project Safe Neighborhoods, but everyone that supported the film and the making of it," "Gangs in Paradise" writer and director Lou Lambert said Thursday. Lambert added that issue of gangs, their structure and how they’re affecting the social atmosphere of the islands might be of interest to other festival viewers who might be seeing the same kind of developments in their own communities.

Lambert said the idea was born out of the territory’s first anti-gang conference, where discussions on rising gang violence levels were informative, but didn’t really get to the root of the problem.

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"So that’s when we decided to take a different approach and invest close to 10 months of time trying to get as much of the full story as possible," he said of the documentary, which debuted in at the second anti-gang conference held in May 2009. The film then went on to air on local CBS and ABC affiliates, along with WTJX Channel 12 and V.I. government access channels, including the Legislature’s LEGIT TV.

Lambert said that once the idea for the documentary began to circulate, people immediately came forward and wanted to be a part of it, including members of the law enforcement community and local experts who deal with the effects of gangs on a daily basis. The film also features testimonials from former gang members whose criminal activities landed them in St. Croix’s Golden Grove Correctional Facility.

"It’s the first time anything like this has been done here," Lambert said. "And we thought we had to do those kind of segments in order to get a better understanding of the entire situation we’re experiencing with gang violence — we looked at a whole generation to get their experiences, from 60 down to 20."

Lambert and his team are heading down to the Bahamas Dec. 2–5 to see how the film is received during the festival.

"I hope people are able to get a full understanding of the issues we’re dealing with now," Lambert said. "People are always amazed to see just how many kids get involved with gangs, but there’s a reason for it, and I think it starts within the home. And the more we talk about it, the more it begins to settle on people that it’s a problem that we need to really need to do something about.

Lambert said the documentary is to be followed by another entitled "Solutions in Paradise," which will look at exactly how the territory can deal with some of its gang-related issues.

For more information on the seventh annual Bahamas International Film Festival, visit www.bintlfilmfest.com.

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The hard-hitting "Gangs in Paradise" documentary, produced by Lambert Media Team for Project Safe Neighborhoods' second annual anti-gang conference, has been selected from 1,700 other entries to showcase next month at the Bahamas International Film Festival.

Several of the final 63 films chosen are making their world or international premiere, and almost all are new to the Bahamian scene, according to festival officials. Film genres include action drama, comedy, documentary, drama, fantasy and thriller.

"It's an honor for everyone involved -- not just for Project Safe Neighborhoods, but everyone that supported the film and the making of it," "Gangs in Paradise" writer and director Lou Lambert said Thursday. Lambert added that issue of gangs, their structure and how they're affecting the social atmosphere of the islands might be of interest to other festival viewers who might be seeing the same kind of developments in their own communities.

Lambert said the idea was born out of the territory's first anti-gang conference, where discussions on rising gang violence levels were informative, but didn't really get to the root of the problem.

"So that's when we decided to take a different approach and invest close to 10 months of time trying to get as much of the full story as possible," he said of the documentary, which debuted in at the second anti-gang conference held in May 2009. The film then went on to air on local CBS and ABC affiliates, along with WTJX Channel 12 and V.I. government access channels, including the Legislature's LEGIT TV.

Lambert said that once the idea for the documentary began to circulate, people immediately came forward and wanted to be a part of it, including members of the law enforcement community and local experts who deal with the effects of gangs on a daily basis. The film also features testimonials from former gang members whose criminal activities landed them in St. Croix's Golden Grove Correctional Facility.

"It's the first time anything like this has been done here," Lambert said. "And we thought we had to do those kind of segments in order to get a better understanding of the entire situation we're experiencing with gang violence -- we looked at a whole generation to get their experiences, from 60 down to 20."

Lambert and his team are heading down to the Bahamas Dec. 2–5 to see how the film is received during the festival.

"I hope people are able to get a full understanding of the issues we're dealing with now," Lambert said. "People are always amazed to see just how many kids get involved with gangs, but there's a reason for it, and I think it starts within the home. And the more we talk about it, the more it begins to settle on people that it's a problem that we need to really need to do something about.

Lambert said the documentary is to be followed by another entitled "Solutions in Paradise," which will look at exactly how the territory can deal with some of its gang-related issues.

For more information on the seventh annual Bahamas International Film Festival, visit www.bintlfilmfest.com.