"I want people to know that it CAN be done."
In the fall of 2016 I showed up to a meeting at the Re-Entry Think Tank, a project of a local non-profit working to address criminal justice reform. They wanted to filmmakers to help tell under-served people's stories.
I showed up because I believe in the idea of compassion, and that story telling is a way to practice it, and to encourage others to feel it. There are a lot of people who have made mistakes, or fallen on hard times, and hard as this may be, we have to work to give them second chances.
I said something to this effect when I introduced myself, and from the corner of my eye I could see a woman pointing at me, highly animated. It was Josette.
Josette is a force of nature, and the more I learned about her, the more I wanted to work with her. At the same time, I felt decreasingly like I had any authority to tell her story. I am a wealthy white man, she is a poor black woman. I have never experienced any of the things she has. The opportunity to congratulate myself as a "woke white savior" was substantial.
But she trusted me. She wanted me to tell her story. It took nearly a year to unlock how to get it right, and I kept checking in with her and the people in my life who I knew would keep me on the right path.
In the end, it's a portrait of her life that both she and I love. We'll be screening in prisons and to audiences of the formerly incarcerated in 2018.