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Prison Reform and Filmmaking

April 22, 2007 @ 2:00 pm 4:00 pm EDT

Last time the Sanctuary InfoShop met, filmmaker Melis Birder was our special guest. Because of our event, several people from our area have become involved in the production of her documentary The Visitors. This time, I’d like to introduce you to two special people involved in criminal justice and prison reform work, one of whom is also making a film. Cheryl Kates is a lawyer in private practice, specializing in parole appeals and other related prisoner legal issues. Through her work she met filmmaker Stefania Zamparelli who has embarked on a project about clemency. Ms Kates is interested in the possibility the project will help some of her clients. Co-ordinated by Prison Action Network.

Stefania Zamparelli writes:

I incorporated Community Awareness Through Arts Inc., which is a non-profit with a 501 (c) (3) status. Clemency Now! Is the first project for the organization; in the beginning it will focus on prisoners in the New York state. The project is intended to raise public opinion and to create grounds for legal clemency for those inmates who are guilty but have a good conduct record and have already served at least half of their sentence. Ideally it would be great to find inmates who are innocent or whose cases show a lack of evidence. My intention is to meet personally the available inmates after getting a prison permit (?!), which would allow me to document with camera and camcorder their particular stories. I’m also planning to interview the inmates’ relatives, their attorneys and possible witnesses.

Why am I doing this? I always had a “rebellious” nature with an inclination towards social and political issues and I’m finally ready to give some more depth to my work. In my first 15 years in NY (I left Italy in 1991) I had to battle to survive without a green card; It took me 10 years to get it, and in the end I accomplished it as an Alien of Extraordinary Ability (please feel free to laugh, this is the real title!!!)

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We use art and participatory action to promote social and environmental justice and freedom of creative expression.

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