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College Behind Bars (PBS): Doc Spends 4 Years in Lives of Inmates Earning Degrees (Clips)

November 25, 2019 @ 9:00 pm - 11:00 pm

College Behind Bars – PBS

College Behind Bars is a new four-part documentary film series that follows a dozen incarcerated men and women in New York over four years as they try to earn college degrees through the Bard Prison Initiative, BPI. It’s directed by award-winning filmmaker Lynn Novick, produced by Sarah Botstein, and executive produced by Ken Burns.

The series is shot over four years in maximum and medium security prisons in New York State and examines America’s failure to provide meaningful rehabilitation for the over two million men and women living behind bars. It  airs over two nights: Monday, November 25 and Tuesday, November 26, 2019, 9-11 p.m. ET on PBS.

Watch the film’s extended trailer below.

The filmmakers spent four years in maximum and medium security prisons in NY State, amassing 400 hours of vérité footage, distilled to four hours in the final film. It’s told without narration in the voices of the dozen incarcerated men and women struggling to earn degrees in the Bard Prison Initiative (BPI) — one of the most rigorous prison education programs in the country.  College Behind Bars is an intimate exploration of the transformative power of education, as it happens, in real time.

Lynn has been directing and producing award-winning documentaries about American history and culture for nearly 30 years and this film is a huge milestone since it marks her first solo directorial effort.

Watch more clips from the series below:


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