Directed by Miquel Galofré
From Gangsta to Pastor shares the moving story of a man who overcame the cycle of violence to uplift the community he once brought harm upon. “This original true tale has a way of casting the main protagonist in a sympathetic light despite his troubled past,” says CaribbeanTales Film Festival Programmer Mandisa Pantin. “It is essentially a story about compassion overcoming obstacles and the ability of the human spirit to be better for all. A true inspiration to young people who may have their own struggles.”
Gary Grant of Laventille, Trinidad & Tobago became involved in gangs from a young age. In the film, he shares how difficult his childhood was with an absent father and a very strict mother. “My mother was strict. She used to beat for everything,” recalls Gary. “And she never used to want us to mingle with the other youths in the community…Things like parties and those other types of things, I never used to go… and I used to always feel like I was missing out.”
Having felt abandoned by his father and without the connection to his peers, Gary developed anger within himself and began acting out for attention. He soon became involved with a gang where he found a sense of belonging and brotherhood, but it came at a great cost. Gary was involved in a multitude of robberies and other criminal activities. The violence that came with his way of life took the lives of many of his friends and widened the rift between him and his family.
Before he turned 18, Gary was in prison for his crimes. He was sentenced to 25 years on two counts of armed robbery.
After serving his sentence, Gary began working hard to uplift and support the youth in his community. He set out to break the cycle of violence and do his best to keep other young people from making the same mistakes he did. He is now a Pastor of a church where he holds workshops for troubled and incarcerated youth. “Gary is doing a very important job helping young people from Laventille, Trinidad & Tobago to stay away from crime,” explained the film’s director Miquel Galofré. “He was once a criminal who spent a lot of time in jail, so he knows what he’s talking about and how to help. He can understand first hand why some youths grow up with anger inside that makes their lives very difficult.”
Miquel explains why he chose to document Gary’s story of triumph and rehabilitation. “We like to share stories that can help to change stigmas and remove prejudices. I don’t love the idea that there are good people and bad people. I prefer to think that there are people with bigger problems than others. Once we face those problems they can become smaller and we all can change and improve.”here