Check out the sequel to THE FARM – premiering on the National Geographic Channel as A DECADE BEHIND BARS: RETURN TO THE FARM on June 16th, 2009 at 8pm EST.
Posts Tagged ‘The Farm’
After leaving prison I didn’t have any problems socializing, because I am a people person. I don’t meet strangers and can function well in most given situations involving people. I had a solid team of eight to ten people who had agreed to be my transition team and help me during my adjustment. All of them had agreed to be a “phone call away,” and promised to help me with any challenges I that i was facing.
I immediately became involved in the activities and events that were close to my heart. I hosted a radio talk show, was a co-host for a tv talk show, assisted in developing town hall and community meetings, worked with organizations that were focused on helping people who had been incarcerated for long periods of time. I became involved in ministries and men’s groups (all of which helped me to develop a personal foundation in society), and a public speaking organization like Toastmasters International. As a motivational speaker I travelled the country, but i also became a board member of organizations like the Innocence Project of New Orleans, La. Coalition for Reform, the Freedom Project, the Teen Summit, the Prison Foundation, am a Senior Justice Fellow with the Soros Foundation, etc., etc. All of these things helped me in my transition. I lived an active life as a leader in prison and I knew that is what I needed to do in society.
There was, however, something that was a challenge for me. I noticed, when I was first released from prison, that I began to have feelings of apprehension when the sun would begin to set. There was a part of me that really didn’t want to be out after dark because I didn’t want to be anywhere where someone might falsely accuse me of anything. Those feelings remained with me for several months, but when I began to travel they begin to diminish.
In the midst of all of my activities stood my transition team of men and women who vowed to help me during my transition. They were true to their word, and were always merely a “phone call away.”
My last day in prison was filled with mixed feelings. There was a part of me that was excited, happy and looked forward to the adventure of being free. There was another part of me that felt like I was leaving many parts of my heart behind. I was leaving men who had become family. We had grown up together and survived many challenges over the years. We were survivors who had conquered our little world and become leaders within our society. We had built a lot of life enriching programs and ministries that helped the institution over the years and i was leaving those friends behind.
Raped beyond a Shadow of Doubt was inspired by the films THE FARM and SHADOWS OF DOUBT. Most people that watched the films had already made their minds up, innocent or guilty, but there were those who still had questions. I felt like it was up to me to answer them in the only way I knew how. That was to put it in black and white, but more than the films I wanted to give hope to someone who was struggling with finding peace and hope for their life. I hoped to give someone the strength to face another day.
Was it hard? Oh yeah it was hard. I had to go back and reopen all those old wounds. Some days I couldn’t put the pen down, and some days I couldn’t pick the pen up. It took me three years to write my book. I had to keep reminding myself it wasn’t just about getting my story out, it was about helping someone. I replayed him raping me over and over in my head, long after I had laid the pen down. Was it worth it? If my story helps just one hurting person, then it was worth every sleepless night I spent writing.
Raped Beyond a Shadow of a Doubt can be bought here.
This sequel to THE FARM, THE FARM: 10 DOWN will premier as A DECADE BEHIND BARS: RETURN TO THE FARM on National Geographic Channel on tonight at 8pm. Tune in!
One decade after THE FARM: ANGOLA, USA (Oscar nominated 1999; two-time Emmy winner 1999), we go back inside Louisiana’s maximum security penitentiary, to catch up with our characters’ lives. While the theme of THE FARM was “to err is human, to forgive divine”, we now delve more deeply and find hope for “reconciliation and release”. Angola is America’s oldest and largest prison, with 5,000 inmates, most of whom have received life -, or death-, sentences for violent crimes, and will never leave Angola. THE FARM continues to provide extraordinary opportunities for learning through storytelling.
Being a father behind bars was a challenging experience. It was several years before I saw my daughter in person, and those were often depressing times. I used to write her a letter almost every day. I would write her as if I were writing to a young adult. I knew that she couldn’t read, write or understand, but her mother promised to read the letters to her.
As time passed, we had the opportunity to visit and share in each other’s love. I received a lot of letters and photos, and I wrote her letters and sent photos when I was able to take some. I used to give her advice on everything and I enjoyed every opportunity to answer any questions she presented to me. Over the years we developed a very close relationship. She wasn’t only my daughter, she was my friend and we could talk about anything. It made me feel special. During her teenage years she often called me her hero and although I felt pride in the fact that we were so close, I also felt a pain of not being with her and sometimes I was hard on myself for making the decisions that caused me to be confined and not physically in her life. We would talk about all of the things we were going to do when I got out of prison, and lived as if I was going to be released soon. Neither of us knew that it would take many more years before we had the opportunity to spend time together in society.
In 1998 we premiered THE FARM at the Sundance Film Festival. I couldn’t even sit in the theater, but paced outside on pure nerves, peeking in from time to time to feel the audience response. Ninety minutes later the credits rolled, the applause began, the standing ovation and the energy it inspired were harbingers of good times ahead. Its success (we were Grand Jury Prize winners) shaped my career in ways I can never fully understand.
Last week, on June 3rd, over a decade later, I premiered THE FARM: TEN DOWN in Angola Prison. The setting could not have been further removed from Park City, Utah. Instead of a big screen in a theater, we were watching on a large size television monitor in the visiting room of the prison. Instead of filmmakers, film fanatics, media, festival directors, there were 400 inmates, guards and administrators. Then beyond the visiting room the film was being broadcast on Angola’s closed circuit television station so the other 4500 men in the prison could also watch the film and the Q&A that was to follow.
This time I was a lot more nervous.
THE FARM: 10 DOWN will premier as A DECADE BEHIND BARS: RETURN TO THE FARM on National Geographic Channel on Tuesday, June 16th at 8pm. Tune in!