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A groundbreaking film about life, justice, and the American way.
A groundbreaking film about life, justice, and the American way.
128 backers pledged $15,335 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

$15,335

128

The Cooler Bandits is a documentary about four African-American teenagers who committed a series of armed robberies in Akron, Ohio in the early 1990s.

I first got involved with these kids back in the eighties, when I became a Big Brother to an 11-year-old boy in Akron's Northside. We spent a lot of time hanging out with other kids in the neighborhood, doing what most kids do -- swimming, fishing, ballgames, riding toboggans in the snow. In 1991, four of the kids did what most don’t do: they robbed a number of area restaurants, herding the employees into coolers and forcing the manager to open the safe.

Nobody was harmed during the robberies, but the young men were given harsh prison sentences of up to 500 years. Now nearly two decades later, one has received parole and is working to support a new family, while the others have spent their entire adult lives incarcerated. Each has a different perspective on life as the four of them struggle to make sense of a world they’ve known only on the harshest terms.

They've got a lot to say, and I want to help them to be heard.

We're committed to making it happen, and we're finding a way to do it on a shoestring budget. We've been flying on borrowed frequent flier miles, sleeping on couches, eating fried baloney sandwiches -- and we're getting incredible footage. Now we need to hire an editor to help us put it all together.

You can help make that happen. Please consider contributing. We've got some great rewards, but the greatest is the difference you can make to this project.

For more information, check out our website, or contact director John Lucas or producer Bruno Navasky.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    Whatever you can give means a lot to us. You'll receive "props" on our website, love forever in our hearts, and the knowledge that you've helped an important story to be heard.

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    12 backers
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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Thank you! You'll receive a glossy still print from the film, signed by the director, plus plenty of good karma and acknowledgment as above.

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    16 backers
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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    For $50 or more, you'll receive a signed collectors-edition DVD of the completed film, acknowledgment, and don't forget the good karma!

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    47 backers
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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $125 or more About $125

    A signed copy of The Flag Series will be yours. This limited edition documents life in Akron's Northside projects in powerful black-and-white photographs. It also makes a great holiday gift (once the project is funded, you can tell us where to send it.) Plus acknowledgement and good karma, of course.

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    17 backers
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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Now you're really saying something. Receive all of the above, plus a signed full-size original photographic print by John Lucas, matted and ready for framing. A selection of images are available (see examples at left).

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    7 backers
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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $1,500 or more About $1,500

    We don't know how to thank you, but we'll try. Receive all of the above, plus an invitation to a private screening of a rough cut of the film, featuring a discussion with the director and producer, as well as a "special thanks" credit in the film.

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    2 backers
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    Pledge $3,000 or more About $3,000

    You're our hero! Receive all of the above, plus an Associate Producer credit in the film. (By the way, can we tell you about our next project?)

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    0 backers
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Funding period

- (60 days)