Short Film Shows the Devastating Toll Prison Takes on Black Families

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By: Krystle Crossman

Alone Watts tosses and turns through the night. She is contemplating her future with her fiancé Desmond. Should she marry him? Should she walk away? The biggest problem that Alone faces is the fact that Desmond is in prison. While this sounds like the plight of so many families in the country, it is actually from a short film created by New Orleans filmmaker Garett Bradley. It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. It is only 13 minutes long but it is a powerful film that shows how incarceration rips black families apart. It also alludes to the plight of families who were ripped apart by slavery many years ago.

Bradley set the film in Louisiana because of its reputation for extreme incarceration. Black men are incarcerated in Louisiana at five times the rate of white men. Every 362 in 100,000 black men are imprisoned. Bradley says that people only look at the numbers but they never actually think about the people that are behind bars and the families that they have to leave behind. This is one of the reasons that he created the film. He wanted to show the masses the emotional side of a family broken by prison.

There is a scene that shows Alone walking into her family’s home. The scene remains on the front door but you can hear the voices from inside. She tells her family that she is marry Desmond. Her mother and grandmother are angry and disappointed. They cannot understand why she would want to do such a thing. She walks out of the house again with her head hanging in shame. Bradley stated that the reason he did not film their faces during this scene was because you can always see anger and focus on that instead of the words and the meaning behind them. He is hoping that people will realize that families in this situation often have no one to turn to when they want to talk about their decision. They have no support system.

All in all the goal of this film is to show the audience that people who make this very hard decision need help and not condemnation. He has the hope that the stigma of black families joining together in marriage from behind bars will be erased eventually.

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