2014 CDS Filmmaker Award: Darius Clarke Monroe "Evolution of a Criminal"

The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival announced the 2014 festival award recipients on April 6, 2014, the last day of the seventeenth annual event. While a number of films screened out of competition, the forty-eight films in the NEW DOCS program were eligible for this year’s awards—thirty-three features and fifteen shorts selected from over twelve hundred submissions, including ten World and ten North American premieres. Juries and Full Frame audiences selected ten awards, including the Center for Documentary Studies Filmmaker Award. This year’s CDS Filmmaker Award went to director Darius Clarke Monroe for his film Evolution of a Criminal, which also received the Reva and David Logan Grand Jury Award.

Monroe was a teenage honor student in Texas when, overwhelmed by his family’s financial problems, he decided to take matters into his own hands. He and two friends, one of them armed, robbed a suburban Houston bank. Monroe was tried as an adult and sentenced to five years; while in prison he pondered the implications of his decision and also came to the realization that he wanted to be a filmmaker. A decade after the crime, he went back home and turned the camera on himself, interviewing family, friends, teachers, and victims who were in the bank at the time of the robbery in order to tell the story of what happened and examine how his actions had affected numerous others. Grand Jury members praised the film, which was executive produced by Spike Lee, “for its mix of autobiographical storytelling and inventive use of re-creations” and “for its ability to disrupt what has become a familiar narrative.” Read an interview with Monroe on Indiewire.