Educators, citizens invited to showing of ‘Paper Tigers’

Documentary examines 'Trauma-Informed Communities'

Washougal and Camas educators, and interested community members are invited to a screening of “Paper Tigers,” a film that captures the pain, danger, beauty and hopes of struggling teens, and the teachers armed with new science and fresh approaches that are working to changing lives for the better.

The documentary, directed by James Redford and executive produced by Karen Pritzker, will be shown Wednesday, March 16, at 5:30 p.m., at the Liberty Theatre, 315 N.E. Fourth Ave., Camas. Admission is free. Doors open 30 minutes before show time.

The movie is unrated and includes strong language. It is intended for adult audiences, but may be suitable for mature youth ages 12 and older.

“Paper Tigers” looks into the lives of selected students at Lincoln High School, an alternative school that specializes in educating traumatized youth. Set amidst the struggling rural community of Walla Walla, Washington, the film examines “Trauma-Informed Communities,” a movement that aims to heal youth struggling with adverse childhood experiences.

ACE’s are defined as potentially traumatic events that can have negative, lasting effects on health and well-being. These experiences range from physical, emotional, or sexual abuse to parental divorce or the incarceration of a parent or guardian.

The film follows six students over the course of a school year. Lincoln’s staff tries a new approach to discipline that is based on understanding and treatment, rather than judgment and suspension.

According to a press release, the documentary uses a combination of reality and diary camera footage.

“Paper Tigers” is described as “a testament to what the latest developmental science is showing: that just one caring adult can help break the cycle of adversity in a young person’s life.”

Canyon Creek Middle School Principal Sandi Christensen said she first heard about the documentary in August 2015, when it was mentioned by Jenna Linerud during a half-day seminar in Washougal about ACEs.

“Currently there is significant momentum in Clark County on becoming Trauma-Informed Communities,” Linerud said. “Science tells us that ACEs impact brain development and increase the risk of social, physical and mental/behavioral health issues throughout a person’s life.”

A couple of months later, Christensen saw the film at Kiggins Theatre in Vancouver.

“I came away knowing I needed more staff to see it,” she said. “It has a very powerful message about the importance of a caring community and educators who form positive relationships with students.”

School counselors and social workers in Camas and Washougal meet regularly as a Professional Learning Community to share best practices and learn from one another how to support youth in the community. After some staff members saw the movie in October, bringing a showing of “Paper Tigers” to the Liberty was on their to-do list.

“My hope is that our larger community, coming together to watch ‘Paper Tigers,’ sparks more dialogue about this shift in perspective that is all about relationships and resilience,” Linerud said.

For more information about the movie and to view the trailer, visit