Since 2012, Tribeca Film Institute has launched three educational initiatives across New York State that seek to heal and strengthen community members affected by the criminal justice system. These members include incarcerated youth and adults, their family members, social service practitioners, and law enforcement. To this end, our filmmaking programs within prison emphasize the power of storytelling as a collective, transparent and democratic exercise. Our programs are integrated within Rikers Island, Otisville State Prison, and Hour Children.
Within Rikers Island, we run a collaborative filmmaking program between young adult women and an 11th grade film elective course at The Young Women’s Leadership School in Astoria. Over the past three years, women who are enrolled in high school, and/or are attaining their GED within the jail, learn to storyboard short films as well as the foundations of digital editing. Their storyboard concepts are shared with the students at the school who, in turn, interpret their ideas visually and ultimately provide them with the material to edit their films
Within Otisville State Prison, we run a media literacy collective for men serving life sentences. Here, we screen independent films, train men on film facilitation and curriculum writing. Three of our facilitators recently completed a study guide for FREEDOM SUMMER, a PBS broadcast film directed and produced by Stanley Nelson. The guide will be available for wide dissemination for high schools and colleges in early 2016.
At Hour Children, we’ve integrated a script-writing program for young mothers recently released from prison who are acclimating themselves into stable housing and employment. The script-writing program allows women to process their lives and is aligned to other critical life skills such as writing, public speaking, and advocacy.
Through support from the NYC Hive Learning Network we have produced two reports that describe in detail our collaborative curriculum between Rikers Island and the Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria, as well as best-practices for organization interested in building programs within prisons and jails.