Frankfort, KY – A documentary about “Shakespeare Behind Bars” has been selected for the 2005 Sundance Film Festival. The 90-minute documentary about the production at Luther Luckett Correctional Complex (LLCC) in LaGrange was one of 16 films selected, out of 624 entries. The documentary from Philomath Films follows the nine-month long process of bringing William Shakespeare's play, “The Tempest,” to performance. “Shakespeare Behind Bars” is the only North American Shakespeare Company contained within the walls of a medium-security adult male prison.
The 2005 Sundance Film Festival will take place January 20-30 in Park City, Utah. The Festival is the premier showcase for American independent films, and is an important new platform for international independent film. The festival is known for screening films that embody risk-taking, diversity, and aesthetic innovation. It has introduced audiences to many of the most important films of the last 20 years.
There are 30 inmates involved in the training for the production, four of which are part of the founding group from 1995.
ITVS, the independent film wing of PBS, has purchased the North American Broadcast rights. The film will continue to be sent to a wide variety of film festivals to compete for awards. PBS will eventually broadcast the documentary on their stations throughout the country.
Curt Tofteland, the producing artistic director of the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, is the founder and producing artistic director of Shakespeare Behind Bars.
“Shakespeare Behind Bars was designed to allow the adult prison population the opportunity to examine relevant personal and social issues within the structure of an aesthetic experience,” said Tofteland. “This drama-in-education approach offers participants the opportunity for ‘safe’ encounters with complex issues. It encourages development of the interpersonal life skills that will contribute to the inmates successful reintegration into society.”
Public performances are scheduled for December 14, 15, and 16 in the visiting room at LLCC. The group will present “A Night of Scenes.” Visitors must arrive by 5 p.m. for a security screening. The play starts at 5:30 p.m. and ends at 9 p.m.
According to festival organizers, the Documentary Competition (in which Shakespeare Behind Bars will compete) presents 16 of the best new films by American independent filmmakers. For the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, 2,613 feature films were submitted for consideration, an increase from 2004, when 2,485 feature films were submitted.
“This year the documentaries are not only compelling in their storytelling and subject matter, but in many cases the filmmakers have created more poetic and cinematic films than one would expect from traditional documentaries,” said John Cooper, Director of Programming for the Sundance Film Festival.
The films screening in the Documentary Division are:
AFTER INNOCENCE (Director: Jessica Sanders) - A gripping, emotionally charged film that follows wrongfully convicted men freed by DNA evidence after decades in prison as they struggle to transition back into society. World Premiere.
THE ARISTOCRATS (Director: Paul Provenza) - One hundred superstar comedians tell the same very, VERY dirty, filthy joke - one shared privately by comics since vaudeville. World Premiere.
THE DEVIL AND DANIEL JOHNSTON (Director: Jeff Feuerzeig) - Daniel Johnston, manic-depressivegenius singer/songwriter/artist, is revealed in this portrait of madness, creativity, and love. World Premiere.
THE EDUCATION OF SHELBY KNOX (Directors: Marion Lipschutz and Rose Rosenblatt) - A 15-year-old girl's transformation from conservative Southern Baptist to liberal Christian and ardent feminist parallels her fight for sex education and gay rights in Lubbock, Texas. World Premiere.
ENRON: RISE AND FALL (Director: Alex Gibney) - The suspenseful, darkly comic, and ultimately tragic inside story of one of history’s greatest business scandals. World Premiere.
THE FALL OF FUJIMORI (Director: Ellen Perry) - President Alberto Fujimori risked everything to win Peru's war on terror, but in doing so became an international fugitive wanted for corruption, kidnapping, and murder. World Premiere.
FROZEN ANGELS (Directors: Eric Black and Frauke Sandig) - A scientific and social exploration of the future of human reproductive technology. World Premiere.
MARDI GRAS: MADE IN CHINA (Director: David Redmon) - This examination of cultural and economic globalization follows the life cycle of Mardi Gras beads from a small factory in Fuzhou, China, to Mardi Gras in New Orleans and to art galleries in New York City. World Premiere.
MURDERBALL (Directors: Henry-Alex Rubin and Dana Adam Shapiro) - A film about quadriplegics who play full-contact rugby in Mad Max – style wheelchairs, overcoming unimaginable obstacles to compete in the Paralympic Games in Athens, Greece. World Premiere.
NEW YORK DOLL (Director: Greg Whiteley) - A recovering alcoholic and recently converted Mormon, Arthur “Killer” Kane, of the rock band The New York Dolls, is given a chance at reuniting with his band after 30 years. World Premiere.
RING OF FIRE: THE EMILE GRIFFITH STORY (Directors: Dan Klores and Ron Berger - A story of violence, love, sex, politics, and media, centered around the life of Griffith, a six-time world welterweight champion. World Premiere.
ROMÁNTICO (Director: Mark Becker) - A troubadour returns home to scratch out a living in Mexico after years of trying to get ahead in San Francisco. World Premiere.
SHAKESPEARE BEHIND BARS (Director: Hank Rogerson) - Twenty male inmates in a Kentucky prison form an unlikely Shakespearean acting troupe. World Premiere.
TRUDELL (Director: Heather Rae) - A chronicle of legendary Native American poet/activist John Trudell's travels, spoken word performances, and politics. World Premiere.
TWIST OF FAITH (Director: Kirby Dick) - A man confronts the trauma of past sexual abuse as a boy by a catholic priest only to find his decision shatters his relationships with his family, community, and faith. World Premiere.
WHY WE FIGHT (Director: Eugene Jarecki) - This film places the Iraqi war in a historical context and examines the forces - economic, political, and ideological - that drive American militarism. World Premiere.