Director’s (Producer’s) Statement

As part of the six-month Graduate Certificate program in Documentary Filmmaking at the George Washington University, the 2010 class was divided into two teams and each would make a short documentary during the last two months of the program.

After hours of heated debates, voting and re-voting among the sixteen topics proposed by our eight-member team, we decided to make the film about the previously incarcerated people’s reentry into society. Except for our Director of Research who pitched this topic, most of us were fairly clueless about the issues we were to explore. Nevertheless, we were all drawn to the universal themes of human struggle, social prejudice, despair and hope, fear and security, and the meaning of freedom.

Given that we had to complete the film within two months, the chosen approach of the film is to compile a collective group of voices that are representative of the common experience of this population rather than creating unique and intimate individual profiles. We reached out to numerous non-profit organizations and government agencies to help us identify the people we would include in our film.

As we raced to film one interview after another and as our tapes started piling up, we were drowned in the issues we uncovered but not expected at the onset. For example, racial inequality imbedded in sentencing guidelines, the political reality that leads to over-incarceration, vicious cycle within the family, just to name a few. What theme(s) to focus on and how to structure the film became the biggest challenge for us all.

We eventually decided to deliver what we felt most strongly about during the course of the filmmaking – we have met a lot of amazing people whose determination to turn their lives around was truly inspiring and yet they are struggling against huge odds to make it in the world. They are human beings just like us. We feel it’s our film’s mission to bring down the barrier between “us” and “them”, to demonstrate that the issues they are facing are also the issues of every citizen, to ultimately ask the viewers “What role can each of us play in finding the solutions?”

Our team consists of eight energetic men and women coming from all walks of life with diverse cultural and professional background, broad world views and vastly different personalities. Looking back at all the late nights we worked together, laborious discussions we went through and times we hated and loved each other, we have found the filmmaking process has been indeed a self-discovery journey that will have lasting impact on all of us for years to come.