Vail, CO

September 30-October 2nd, 2010

The Farm: 10 Down” was screened at Conference of Southwest Foundations 62nd Annual Conference in Vail, Colorado, September 30 – October 2nd.  The Conference of Southwest Foundations is a nonprofit membership association of grantmaking organizations that provides a forum for the exchange of ideas, experiences and expertise among grantmakers, and resources to enhance the ability of each organization to fulfill its charitable mission. We maintain a library of the resources required for effective, efficient and responsible philanthropy.

The film was part of the opening night special event before program officers and executives of 143 foundations, followed by a discussion on how foundations can use media/film to more effectively address criminal justice issues in their communities.

Washington, D.C. 

September 16th, 2010

On September 16th, “The Farm: 10 Down” was screened before an overflowing audience at the Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference Independent Film Series.  Each year, the Annual Legislative Conference Independent Film Series showcases ground-breaking short movies and documentaries that highlight the experiences of Black people in the United States and abroad. Drawing on thousands of lawmakers, policy professionals, grass-roots activists and concerned citizens who attend ALC each year, the series provides a unique opportunity for seasoned and emerging filmmakers to shape national discourse and policy through the cinematic arts.  The Farm: 10 Down film was screened for a session called Juvenile Justice Reform and was selected to raise awareness of the correctional system and its impact on American society.

The films were followed by a panel discussion with Ashanti Witherspoon (ex-inmate and subject of The Farm),  Producer Mara-Michelle Batlin and Director Jonathan Stack.  Other participants included:  Ivory A. Toldson, Congressional Black Caucus, Sherry Dorsey, director and producer,  “Justice For All”,  Rev. Derrick Johnson “Pastor D”, Pastor of Joshua Harvest Church in Delaware, Dr. Terry B. Joyner, Director of Academic Performance and Accountability and facilitator of the Ohio Improvement Process (OIP), Mr. Dwayne Betts, the National Spokesperson for the Campaign For Youth Justice, Dr. Cheryl Grills, Associate Dean of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, CA and President-Elect of the Association of Black Psychologists and R. Dwayne Betts, national spokesperson for the Campaign for Youth Justice.

Many criminal justice professionals and community leaders were in the audience, and several sought follow up events.  The film was also screened in DC by The Justice Roundtable, a group of organizations and leaders in DC who are working on issues of social justice. That audience was instrumental in getting several other screenings, including the one by the Congressional Black Caucus.

Dallas, TX
April 22, 2010

Inspiring. Captivating. Encouraging. Those are some of the adjectives from participants at a capacity screening of “The Farm: 10 Down” at the Nancy Hamon Hall at The Winspear Opera House, AT&T Performing Arts Center on April 22, 2010. The invitation-only event was attended by Dallas District Attorney Craig Watkins; State Representative Barbara Mallory Caraway; business leader Tom Dunning; Joyce Ann Brown, president & CEO of Mothers (Fathers) for the Advancement of Social Systems; Mark Hollis, Texas Baptist Men along with close to 200 Texas philanthropists,
business leaders and criminal and social justice professionals.

The evening began with a reception where guests met the producers, followed by the documentary screening. Guests experienced a range of emotions as they followed the triumphs and struggles of three Angola inmates. After the screening, Warden Burl Cain of Angola was on hand to answer questions about the complete turn-around of what was once notorious as one of the most dangerous prisons in America. When asked about the turn-around, he attributes it, in part, to the inmate’s attendance at the Bible College on the prison grounds. “I believe the life principles they learn in the Bible College has transformed their lives,” said Warden Cain. “Because of the internal changes in these men, we experience peace and mutual respect at Angola.”

Here are a few more memorable quotes:

“After viewing the film, the employees and inmates respect the warden….causing change in the system.” – Joyce Ann Brown, previously incarcerated

“Inmate-victim reconciliation is the key to rehabilitation of inmates.” – Warden Burl Cain

“Moral rehabilitation is the only rehabilitation.” – Warden Burl Cain

“We are so proud of the documentary that gives a voice to the Angola population, but more importantly showcases the powerful turn-around of the prison spearheaded by Warden Burl Cain. The work he has accomplished at Angola proves that prison reform is a real possibility, even in Texas.” – Mara-Michelle Batlin, Producer, “The Farm: 10 Down”

Press from the event was covered in articles by both Dallas Weekly and The Young Professional Advocate.

Journalist Brandi Richard was also on hand to capture some of the Warden Burl Cain’s thoughts in a three-part interview following the screeing.

Boston, MA
April 14, 2010

Producer Mara-Michelle Batlin and Ashanti Witherspoon were honored to screen “The Farm: 10 Down” on April 14, 2010 at the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law School.

Many members of the community joined law students, criminal justice scholars, and community leaders in an overflow audience for a discussion about race and justice in America. Ashanti Witherspoon and Mara-Michelle Batlin participated in a panel discussion following the screening.

In a touching moment, a young man approached Mr. Witherspoon after the event and said that it had been his viewing of the original film, “The Farm” as a college freshman in 2002, that had led him on the path that brought him to Harvard Law School.  And, he told Ashanti, meeting Ashanti 8 years later, and asking the man who had inspired his career in social justice to serve as his mentor, was an emotional and affirming experience.  We were all in tears as this meaningful moment unfolded, and it was a testament to the power and the ripple effects of film in society.

Brooklyn, NY
July 8, 2009

THE FARM: 10 DOWN had its NY Premiere at the 92YTribeca on Wednesday, July 8th, co-presented by the Woodstock Film Festival. The sold out event had people sitting on the floor in the front and sidelines of the theatre, a captivated audience watching as the lives of 4 inmates at the maximum security Angola prison unfold before them. The screening was followed by a lengthy and in-depth Q&A session with filmmaker Jonathan Stack and former inmate Eugene “Bishop” Tanniehill, moderated by WFF’s co-founder and executive director Meira Blaustein. Bishop, a devout Christian

and skilled preacher who recently walked out a free man after 50 years in prison, shared a passionate and captivatingserman with the audience. His wife, who he met soon after leaving prison, sat in the audience and was moved as everyone else in the room was. Jonathan answered the audiences’ various questions, providing his unique insight into a private world that most of us know very little about. Following the packed screening, guests and filmmakers mingled and carried their conversations to the bar in the 92YTribeca. Overall, the event was wonderfully successful! We’ll see you in Woodstock!
– Meira Blaustein, Co-Founder/Executive Director, Woodstock Film Festival


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