From the Nominator
This short film documents the work being done by the Northwestern Prison Education Program, an initiative of Northwestern University to provide a high-quality liberal arts education to incarcerated students, in partnership with Oakton Community College and the Illinois Department of Corrections. This film was largely shot in one day inside Stateville Correctional Center, a maximum-security prison in Crest Hill, IL, near Chicago. The primary goal of the film was to allow people in the outside world to hear the voices and see the faces of these incarcerated students.
From the Judges
This video is not only highly effective in telling the story of its educational program, it also highlights the nontraditional students who are incarcerated in a maximum security prison. Faced with a challenging shooting schedule of one day, and the highly restricted prison location, the team members managed to capture excellent footage and compelling interviews that enabled them to tell the story of the Northwestern Prison Education Program. This unique project provides a rare glimpse inside the walls of a maximum-security federal prison. The filmmakers spoke with student inmates, and were able to share their experiences and perspectives in an unapologetic and honest way.
Their stories and insights are powerful testimonials about the transformative nature of education from a demographic that is all too often voiceless and marginalized. This project explores the potential of prison education, which is still a controversial concept for many. It puts Northwestern University’s work in the spotlight for its role in advancing the cause of prison education for the benefit of the participants and society at large. Northwestern has successfully used the film for outreach, fundraising, and awareness purposes. In addition, the feedback from analytics, the program volunteers, and their campus community has been universally positive and deeply encouraging to the project creators, faculty members, and students.