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“Teen Court” is a documentary film that tells the story of two women united by a peer-youth court in Watts, South Los Angeles, where one is a volunteer teen juror while the other is its founder and director. For almost ten years we follow Denae, a Latina girl from a fatherless family hit by gang violence, and Mary, a senior African-American community organizer and former LAPD and LAUSD clerk. We witness their personal life difficulties as well as their coming together on teen court days. Between trials, Denae struggles to stay safe, to complete high school, and to remain on the positive side of the law. Meanwhile, Mary fights to make ends meet, to overcome her challenging health problems, to keep this juvenile crime prevention and diversion program afloat, and to amass the support to establish it permanently. The “Justice All Stars” Teen Court -a youth court where trials are real and the jury is comprised by teenagers from the Watts community- is the unusual point of contact where these two bold, passionate women, with vastly different life backgrounds, meet and develop a growing relationship almost unknowingly, as they help each other and, moreover, the entire community by creating fine justice and improving the lives of thousands of at-risk youth.

Principal photography started in January of 2002. The project has received the support of the CORO fellowship (www.coro.org), and is currently fundraising to cover its last stage of production.

Work-in-progress presentations of the film have been held at the Museum of Tolerance, the Watts Labor Community Action Committee and at the PBS SoCal booth at the Orange County Youth Expo.

Directed by Jordi Ortega. Associate Producers: Joanne Cook, Annette Wong and Simone Collins.


Kids with stick



Jordi Ortega is a Director, Writer, and Producer based in Los Angeles, CA. He is the author of the documentaries "Poetry Slam" (2005), about some of the best recent young poets in the United States, and "American Politics All You Can Eat" (2009), about the Bush vs. Kerry U.S. presidential election, featuring an exclusive interview with Sean Penn. Born in Barcelona, Spain, he was formally trained as a TV journalist. Ortega has produced news stories for Reuters TV, Univision, Telemundo, MundoFox, Fuji-TV and Television Española (TVE). A past fellow of the USC Annenberg/Getty Arts Journalism Program and a former board member of the Los Angeles Press Club, he holds an Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Emmy in Investigative Journalism. Ortega met Mary Trotter randomly in January of 2002, during a visit to the Watts Labor Community Action Committee (WLCAC). He has been following Ms. Trotter ever since. Amy Goodman has called him a "bridge" between cultures. Author Sasha Anawalt says: "He has the knack for documenting truth." Matt Mulcahy (WSTM-TV/NBC): "Ortega has a unique character and shooting style that gives a sense of art and urgency to his stories." Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. says about the "Teen Court" documentary: it "displays deep concern for this extremely vulnerable segment of our urban population." TORO BRAVO is Jordi’s creative production company, serving the film, TV, and advertising industries.

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