Statements from the Filmmakers

Lily Hua Qin (Producer)

“I was born and raised in China.  Even though I had always been dreaming of becoming a journalist, I somehow ended up with a Bachelor’s degree in Management.  After working at an accounting and business advisory firm for a short while, I came to U.S. to pursue my advanced degree during which time I also spent some time studying in Germany.  I have been working in the financial industry since my graduation in 2004.  While keeping my day job as a finance and risk management professional, I decided to venture into documentary filmmaking in 2010 – I love watching documentaries since I was a little kid!  With no prior experience in filmmaking or any form of art and extremely scared of filmmaking technology, I was assigned as one of the two producers for our thesis film.  The experience of working with a team of seven creative souls while having zero confidence in my own ability in any aspect of the filmmaking has tested my limits in so many dimensions and taught me valuable life lessons.

During the course of making our film “Released To Life”, I felt extremely grateful and honored that so many people let us into their lives and shared with us their most painful personal struggles.  These are some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met and they have inspired me to believe in the endless possibilities life has to offer.  What is also a surprising discovery for me is that for the first time in the past ten years since I came to the States, I felt being part of this society.  This has been truly a great journey!”

Erika Rydberg

When I was an undergraduate in Boston, I spent many hours going to the movies with friends and colleagues who studied film, meanwhile I was studying political communications and spending my time being civically engaged (and occasionally helping with a film project here or there).  One of the organizations I worked with that left a strong impression on me was a small organization based in Quincy, Massachusetts that is called the Prison Book Program . I read letters from prisoners and looked through our library to send on books,  from dictionaries, to law books, to fiction; we didn’t always have what they asked for, and of course the guidelines and restrictions for sending books to prisoners was a surprise to me. From here I had the opportunity to work as a graduate student on Released to Life, and by working on this film, I became more aware of the complexities of incarceration, reentry, and the world outside of prison. I came to a deeper understanding of the situation we as a society face when recognizing as Joe Crouch puts it an incarcerated person is “coming out someday”.  We as citizens should consider looking at the bigger picture for those who have, will be, or are incarcerated and what will be done if and when they do come out , and how we all should be able to live the words present in our Declaration of Independence “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”.