"How can we put over-incarceration in a way that is consumable and inspiring to people to let them know that this is not just a black or racial issue, it's an issue for all Americans who care about democracy and equity and fair play and decency. And that's what we have to do. We are killing genius in jail cells that does not have a chance to blossom and to flower." ~ Randall Robinson, lawyer, artist and activist
In the quote above by Randall Robinson, he states that there is a need to make the issue of over incarceration "consumable and inspiring." The impetus for the movement film Well Contested Sites stems from this need - to raise awareness regarding over incarceration through an aesthetic medium.
Well Contested Sites is a collaboration between a group of men who were previously incarcerated, performing artists from the Bay Area, choreographer Amie Dowling and film maker Austin Forbord. The 13 minute film was developed and filmed on Alcatraz Island.
The title stems from the idea that a prisoner’s body is a 'contested site', its presence or absence, its power and its vulnerability are all intensely realized in jails and prisons - institutions that emphasize control, segregation, solitude and physical containment.
Several of the artists/performers have been incarcerated and it is by drawing on these men’s physical memories that Well Contested Sites connects audiences to the impact of incarceration. Using a metaphorical, movement-based aesthetic, the film explores the effect of incarceration on individuals and suggests that the imagination can thrive even while the body is behind bars.
Workshop and curriculum guides are available to accompany the film. Public screenings will begin in early 2013.
• The United States is the world's leader in incarceration, with more than 2.2 million people currently in the nation's prisons or jails -- a 500% increase over the past thirty years.
• Due to extreme policing in urban areas, unequal access to quality legal representation, underfunded public education, and other social and economic inequalities, young African American men are more easily caught in the net of the criminal justice system.
• 1 in every 10 African American male in his thirties is in prison or jail on any given day.
• Nearly half (47%) of people incarcerated in state prisons are convicted of non-violent drug, property, or public order crimes.
• By the time they turn 18, one in four African American children will have experienced the imprisonment of a parent.
• Once released from the criminal justice system, most people continue to face barriers due to a lack of accessible jobs, housing, education, and voter disenfranchisement.
Well Contested Sites on Facebook: facebook.com/WellContestedSites
Cast and Crew include:
Producer: Amie Dowling
Producer/Director: Austin Forbord
Natalie Greene: Rehearsal Director/Co-Choreographer
Kitfox Valentín: Assistant Film Maker/Photography
Eli Nelson: Sound Designer/Composer
Keriann Egeland: Costume and Prop Designer
Matthew Wolfe: Sound Technician
Marielle Amrhein: Community Outreach and Education
Caitlin Elliott: Production Coordinator
Tessa Fleming: Production Assistant
Julian Micallef: Production Assistant
Jazzmin Holmes: Production Assistant
Byron Harold Jr.