WYLLISA BENNETT, publicist du jour

PUSHOUT! New Documentary Sounds the Alarm for the Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools Nationwide

Makes LA Premiere at the DTLA Film Festival and Nabs Audience Favorite Award!

LOS ANGELES – The electrifying documentary, "PUSHOUT: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools," co-written and directed by award-winning filmmaker Jacoba Atlas, just nabbed the Audience Favorite Award at the 11th annual DTLA Film Festival, set to take place October 23-27, 2019 at Regal L.A. LIVE, located at 1000 W Olympic Blvd in downtown LA.  Making its Los Angeles premiere,  “PUSHOUT” is among the lineup of 36 feature-length movies, which includes 17 narrative and 19 documentary films. The doc is based on two books by Dr. Monique W. Morris – that is, the groundbreaking book of the same name, “PUSHOUT: The Criminalization of Black Girls In Schools” as well as “Sing a Rhythm, Dance a Blues: Education for the Liberation of Black and Brown Girls” (The New Press). The doc confronts the criminalization and miseducation of black girls that leads to their alarming high school dropout rates and increased representation in the juvenile justice system.

“For girls, education is a critical protective factor against involvement with the criminal legal system. This documentary explores how black girls are impacted by the policies, practices, conditions and prevailing consciousness that renders them vulnerable to criminalization,” said Morris, co-writer and executive producer of “PUSHOUT.”


 “PUSHOUT: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools” | SCREENING TME

·      Sunday, October 27, 2019 | 1:45 p.m.

Regal LA Live (Theater 13) | 1000 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90015

A discussion will follow the screening with Dr. Morris and Samaya Dillard, the youngest girl featured in doc, “PUSHOUT.”


MOVIE SYNOPSIS | 77 minutes

“PUSHOUT” is a feature-length documentary that examines a new and alarming trend: African American girls are the fastest-growing population in the criminal justice system and the only group of girls disproportionately experiencing criminalization and harsh discipline at every educational level.


“PUSHOUT” exposes the educational and judicial disparities African-American girls face in the United States. The film includes heart-wrenching stories from young women, ages 7 to 19, across the country – that is, Miami, Fla.; Portland, Ore.; Oakland, Calif.; Sacramento, Calif.; and Columbus, Ohio -- as they narrate the challenges they encounter daily.

While the over-incarceration and criminalization that black boys face in this country has received national attention, interestingly girls of color – specifically, African Americans -- is absent from the conversation. PUSHOUT addresses that crisis.


“PUSHOUT” also features insights from experts across the country who have worked in social justice, gender equality and educational equity. These experts also provide context for the crisis, and a roadmap for those who interact with African American girls through the educational and justice systems, and how they can provide positive response to various behaviors. These behaviors are often misunderstood and misinterpreted by teachers, administrators, and the justice system — which incidentally, is the very institutions charged with helping them flourish.


“Black and brown girls continue to disproportionately experience harsh and exclusionary school discipline for incidents and behaviors that do not pose a critical threat to the safety of the learning environment. Many of these behaviors are fueled by experiences with trauma, much of which is under-reported for girls of color,” explained Morris.

“PUSHOUT” is a film co-written by Atlas and Morris, and produced by Women in the Room Productions with executive producer Denise Pines. Both Atlas and Morris serve as an executive producers. Funding is provided by NoVo Foundation, Meadow Fund, Ford Foundation, Ms. Foundation, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, Stuart Foundation and Films for Purpose.

In September 2019, the doc made its world premiere at the Congressional Black Caucus Legislative Conference in Washington, DC, hosted by Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (D-MA). In addition to the DTLA Film Festival, “PUSHOUT’ is making its rounds on the film festival circuit with official selections in Diversity Film and Script Showcase, Detroit Women of Color International Film Festival, and the iGen Film Festival.

To view the trailer of “PUSHOUT,” visit

For additional information, visit

Special thanks for the generous support of Toyota Motor Company, providing tickets for 100 girls to attend the screening of “PUSHOUT” at DTLA Film Festival.


For tickets, visit DTLA Film Festival is currently the largest film and television event in burgeoning downtown Los Angeles, the historic core and new creative nexus of the city.


On the web:

Follow PUSHOUT on Facebook:

Follow PUSHOUT on Instagram: @PushoutFilm

Hashtags: #PUSHOUTFilm #StandWithBlackGirls

ABOUT JACOBA ATLAS, co-writer, director, executive producer

Jacoba Atlas is an award-winning documentarian and broadcast executive. Her extensive list of credits include an Emmy and Peabody awards for her work on “Survivors of the Holocaust,” executive produced by acclaimed, award-winning director Steven Spielberg.


Her other credits include “Dying to Tell the Story,” which was shortlisted for an Oscar; as well as profiles of extraordinary women for OWN, hosted by Julia Roberts. She has written, produced and directed seven prime-time PBS documentaries, including “Too Important to Fail,” which details the education crisis facing black Boys; “A Call to Conscience,” a deconstruction of Martin Luther King Jr.’s pivotal Vietnam Speech; and “Conducting a Life,” a profile of conductor Gustavo Dudamel. From 2000 to 2006, she was head of national content for PBS. For the Turner networks, she wrote and produced the six-part Emmy-nominated landmark series, titled “A Century of Women,” about the history of American women in the 20th Century.


ABOUT DR. MONIQUE W. MORRIS, co-writer and executive producer

Dr. Monique W. Morris is the founder and president of the National Black Women’s Justice Institute (NBWJI), an organization that works to reduce racial and gender disparities across the justice continuum affecting black women, girls and their families. Morris is an award-winning and social justice scholar who examines and specializes in the ways in which African American communities, and other communities of color, are uniquely affected by social policies.  She is also the award winning author of “Pushout: the Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools,” released by The New Press in 2016.


DENISE PINES, executive producer

Denise Pines is the president of the Medical Board of California. She is an award-winning marketer and serial entrepreneur. She has participated in 10 startups, including multimedia companies and foundations. For PBS and NPR, she served as the creative consultant for several talk shows, including the late-night talker, “Tavis Smiley” with a 14-year run as well as 10 documentaries. Pines has more than 20 years of management, sales and marketing experience in personality brand management and traditional media. She’s also responsible for strategic planning and business development for denise+pines inc., a socially responsible brand strategy, media development, and event management firm. Pines received her bachelor’s degree from San Francisco State University and two master’s degrees from John F. Kenney University and Stanford University, respectively.

About DTLA Film Festival

Founded in 2008 as a nonprofit (501)(c)(3) arts organization, DTLA Film Festival is dedicated to showcasing films by and about groups underrepresented by Hollywood in the historic center of the Creative Capital of the World. The festival also strives to reflect in its programming the unique cultural and ethnic diversity of the neighborhoods of downtown Los Angeles and its surrounding communities.