Exploring the effects of mass incarceration on families, Invisible Bars follows Bay Area kids growing up with parents in prison. Cesar is learning to become the man of the house at age 15, while coping with an incarcerated father who wants nothing to do with him. Castanya, a new mom at 17, vows not to raise her daughter like she was raised. Isaiah has lived in a dozen foster homes before the age of 18. And Jessica, who lost her parents to prison at age 9, now ventures behind bars for a life-changing interview with her father, who's been in imprisoned for the past 23 years.
They're all part of Project Avary, a Bay Area nonprofit that looks after children with parents in prison. Together they form an unlikely social activist group called the PeaceMakers to lobby for more humane visitation rights in Marin County.
Along the way, we meet San Quentin and Solano state prison inmates, who struggle to maintain relationships with their children. We sit in San Francisco courtrooms where public defenders try to persuade judges to consider their clients' families during sentencing. We journey to Mendocino summer camps where children with incarcerated parents learn they're not alone. And we follow a recent parolee, released to a Tenderloin halfway house, as he struggles to return to society and re-establish relationships with family.
This hour-long documentary is a rare look at families caught in generational cycles of incarceration - and those who are determined to break those cycles.