Backtrack Boys is one of the most heartwarming documentaries I’ve watched.
Bernie Shakeshaft is a jackaroo who leads a group of troubled teenage boys while encouraging them to train his legendary dog jumping team. The boys learn by training the dogs how to deal with their own emotions and actions.
Bernie has just the right amount of empathy and encourages the kids to express their feelings with cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) and acceptance.
We gradually learn more about the kids’ backgrounds and hear about their struggles growing up in broken families fighting serious additions. The kids might have lived through traumatic experiences, so they need to learn to trust people again. Some of them have spent time in prison.
The observational documentary was filmed over two years and follows the boys in a youth program.
We see a big group of volunteers teach and guide them with genuine acceptance, patience and tolerance.
Bernie is like an angel – very few people could take on his role, but his leadership and understanding is remarkable. He runs a number of youth programs in a shed on the outskirts of Armidale. He passes on practical job skills but is teaching the boys how to reframe their thinking so they have hope for the future.
The boys, in turn, start to encourage each other and pass on their coping skills.
We all need to learn to look out of the front window screen of the car, rather than the back window. Our past doesn’t dictate our future and we are responsible for the choices we make.
Ultimately, we discover that the boys are just one bad decision or one wild night of drinking from ending up in prison.
Backtrack Boy is showing in Australian cinemas with a release date of 25 October 2018.
About Backtrack Boys
Cast: Bernie Shakeshaft
Director, Producer: Catherine Scott