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It's a Hard Truth Ain't It
by Kathryn Loggins

Documentary feature by Madeleine Sackler and Thirteen Men Incarcerated At The Pendleton Correctional Facility in Pendleton, Indiana

I saw this documentary after I had seen O.G. (the narrative feature by the same director) and I think I assumed it was going to be a documentary about making a movie in a maximum-security prison. This documentary surprised me, because it’s not about film-making in the way I thought it was going to be. The film is the result of a film workshop that Madeleine Sackler conducted at a maximum-security prison in Indiana. It is collaboration between the inmates and Sackler and really offers a rare glimpse into the prison system from the inmate’s point of view.

The film shows the audience some of the workshop that Sackler conducts, like teaching the inmates how to use film equipment and the basics of telling a story, but mainly the film is comprised of interviews with the inmates. Sackler basically put cameras into these men’s hands and then had them turn them on each other. She had the inmates interview each other about their lives, their crimes and their feelings about who they are.  This gives the film so much authenticity, because each story is told through the lens of a fellow inmate. As an audience you get the sense that the subjects are being truthful and candid and it’s heartbreaking to watch their stories unfold.

The film offers us insight into these men’s personal journeys through their own words, but their stories are also beautifully illustrated. Yoni Goodman, known for his work on Waltz with Bashir, is the animation director on this film and truly captures who these men are, where they came from and who they’re hoping to be. The candid nature of this documentary really struck me as beautiful and helped me understand the hard truths these men deal with on a daily basis.