Two worlds collide when Dartmouth College students meet with incarcerated women at a local jail in this transformational documentary about privilege, poverty, and injustice. It's Criminal highlights the wide economic and social inequality that divides the United States and offers a unique window into how two groups of women break down barriers and learn to speak to each other.
When twenty-four women come together to create a play based on the experiences of the jailed women, it starts with a clash of personalities and a level of distrust. From there, walls are broken down as the two groups communicate with each other, and the Ivy League students learn to look beyond their preconceived notions of the prisoners and gain an empathetic insight into the injustices of the United States criminal justice system. Likewise, the women of the correctional facility open up about their painful pasts and give voice to fragile -- yet still hopeful -- visions for their futures.
The film asks viewers to question the disparities that exist about those currently in the prison system and why.
FILMMAKER'S STATEMENT: "I think one of the biggest dangers that's confronting our country, if that's not too highfalutin, is that we live in very segregated silos, that we are becoming more and more divided economically, ethnically, politically. So I think it's really easy, when you don't interact with people on a daily basis, to have prejudices, stereotypes, and fears. This film was my way of saying, let's listen to each other."
Reviews & Awards"College students from Dartmouth and female inmates worked together to write short plays about what it's like to be incarcerated. The process generates a conversation about privilege and the justice system...Thoughtful and authentic."
"A timely movie that connects well with audiences"
"Takes a hard look at the way class shapes people's lives and their interactions with the American criminal justice system"
"Signe Taylor's moving and arresting portrait of incarcerated women, privileged Dartmouth students, and what happens when they come together to write and stage a play...Gorgeously shot, in cinema verite style. It tells many stories -- stark economic inequality that bleeds over into the current criminal justice system is but one."
"Well-produced documentary film. Addresses the American tragedy called our system of justice which ideologically and functionally ignores the prima facie fact that there is a direct relationship between poverty and crime -- or to put it more accurately, between context and criminal behavior."
Special Jury Prize, Documentary Section, Talca International Film Festival
Impact Doc Award, Feature Documentary
Jury Prize, Social Justice Film Festival
VTPBS Made Here Award, Vermont International Film Festival
Athena Film Festival
Justice on Trial Film Festival
Los Angeles Women's International Film Festival
Maine International Film Festival
Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival
New Hampshire International Film Festival
Women Texas Film Festival
Green Mountain Film Festival
High Falls Film Festival
Women's History Month Film Festival
Chesapeake Film Festival Eaton
Northeast Pennsylvania Film Festival
White River Indie Film Festival