Jail Brakers to host 'The If Project' film screening, discussion

  • Documentary filmmaker Kathlyn Horan made a documentary on "The If Project" about inmates struggling to rebuild a life and connection with their children.

    Documentary filmmaker Kathlyn Horan made a documentary on "The If Project" about inmates struggling to rebuild a life and connection with their children. Courtesy of Jail Brakers

 
Jail Brakers
Updated 9/13/2017 11:15 AM

Jail Brakers, which serves families of incarcerated individuals, will present a free screening of the award-winning documentary "The If Project" from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 19, at the Woodstock Public Library, 414 W. Judd St. An open community discussion will follow.

In 2008, Seattle police officer Kim Bogucki walked through the gates of the Washington Corrections Center for Women, intent on asking a group of mothers for permission to work with their school-aged daughters in a Girl Scouts Beyond Bars troop for girls with incarcerated parents.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

On that day, Bogucki asked the mothers a critical question: "If there was something someone could have said or done that would have changed the path that led you here, what would it have been?"

For one of the inmates in particular this question struck a chord. Renata Abramson was a repeat offender serving a nine-year sentence. In the days that followed, Renata took it upon herself to answer that question in writing, and invited her fellow prisoners to do the same. When Bogucki returned to prison a month later, Renata handed her a stack of raw and poignant essays and The If Project was born.

Director Kathlyn Horan was inspired to create a documentary about Abramson, Renata, and three other inmates struggling to rebuild a life and connection with their children. Horan, a veteran filmmaker, photographer, and writer codirected the feature documentary "A Voice for Choice" about a 2004 march for women's reproductive rights in Washington, D.C., and has completed several other short films as a producer.

The feature length documentary won the Lena Sharpe Award for Persistence of Vision and the Special Jury Award at the Seattle Film Festival and a Special Jury Mention -- Best Documentary at the Port Townsend Film Festival. It also has been screened at the Brooklyn Film Festival, Cayman Islands Film Festival, Justice on Trial Film Festival, and Global Peace Film Festival.

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Jail Breakers recently became a ministry of the Tree of Life Unitarian Universalist Congregation in McHenry but will continue to be independently administered and nonsectarian under the visionary guidance of founder and executive director Cheryl Niemoi. The congregation will offer administrative support to the organization with which it has had a long relationship.

After the screening, there will be a community discussion. Family resources will be available and snacks will be served.

The screening is free and open to the public. The event is child friendly.

For more information, contact Jail Brakers at jailbrakers@gmail.com or visit the Facebook Event listing.