Their mothers may be convicted thieves, murderers and drug dealers, but the girls of Troop 1500 want to be doctors, social workers and marine biologists. Premiering March 12 at the prestigious South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas, “Troop 1500: Girl Scouts Beyond Bars,” a moving new documentary by acclaimed filmmakers Ellen Spiro and Karen Bernstein, features the inspired and innovative Girl Scout program that brings young girls into prison to meet with their inmate moms.

Moving audiences to laughter and tears at a sneak peek screening at the New York MoMA Documentary Fortnight exhibition in February, this extraordinary documentary was a labor of love for veteran filmmakers Spiro and Bernstein. The directors volunteered with the troop for two years, then began filming monthly meetings at the Hilltop Prison in Gatesville, Texas, as well as capturing scenes in the girls’ homes to explore the painful context of broken families.

Providing some of the doc’s most powerful footage, the filmmakers also put cameras in the hands of the girls themselves, asking them to film one-on-one conversations with their mothers. Often playful and sometimes intense, these clips offer powerful insights on the girls’ conflicted feelings of anger and joy, abandonment and intimacy — as well as the strong influence their jailed mothers still have on them.

An estimated 1.5 million children have incarcerated parents and 90 percent of female inmates are single mothers. Their daughters are six times more likely to land in the juvenile justice system.

The 93-year old Girl Scouts organization started the Girl Scouts Beyond Bars program 13 years ago to help at-risk young girls deal with their unique circumstances and break the cycle of crime within families. “Troop 1500” will travel to the Florida Film Festival, and continue a tour of festivals across the United States.