"Baca's harrowing story will stand among the world's most moving testimonies to the profound value of literature." -Booklist
A Place to Stand
tells the story of acclaimed author Jimmy Santiago Baca’s transformation from a functionally illiterate convict to an award-winning poet, novelist and screenwriter. Based on the memoir of the same name, the film takes viewers into Baca's past and present to uncover how the power of the written word lifted him from the violence and pain that defined his early life.
With powerful revelations from family, friends, and fellow inmates, as well as insight into the early writings that first captured Baca's imagination, the film shows how he turned his life around. A Place to Stand
follows Baca's path from childhood abandonment in Estancia, New Mexico, through adolescent drug dealing and a subsequent 5-year narcotics sentence at Arizona State Prison, one of the most violent prisons in the country.
Baca began his incarceration an angry and illiterate young man. Against the odds, he taught himself how to read and write, discovering a passion for poetry that gave him a means of understanding and expressing himself, and that ultimately saved his life. Writing poetry helped him to survive the brutal inhumanity of his incarceration, and eventually to heal the wounds of his childhood and open himself to a whole new future.
In the film, Baca reads some of his poetry while shots of the prison and the surrounding Arizona landscape pan across the screen. Baca’s poems provide a unique window to his mindset at the time as he channeled his frustrations and hopes to paper. Baca's extraordinary life is both inspiring and haunting, simultaneously an indictment of our current criminal justice system and a model of the potential for human transformation.
SPECIAL FEATURETTE ON THE DVD
• CONVICTION (8 Min.)
Profiles Eric Christo Martinez, a former inmate inspired by Jimmy whose art was used to create animation in the film.
CURRICULUM & WORKBOOK
A Curriculum & Workbook developed to be used with the film are available for separate purchase. Finding A Place to Stand Curriculum
A curriculum designed to support educators in community centers, school-based programs and spaces of incarceration to facilitate critical dialogues and creative engagement with concepts presented in the film. Getting Free Student Workbook
A companion workbook for students to be used with "Finding A Place to Stand" or on its own. Part-journal, part-workbook with 19 original exercises to spark creativity and self-expression.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCEFeeding the Roots of Self-Expression & Freedom
Jimmy Santiago Baca collaborated with two National Writing Project Fellows on this teaching tool. Using poems from his incarceration, the activities and questions are designed to take readers on a personal journey, plumbing both the depths of pain and the promise of joy.