Female prisoners create short films to tell their stories

In the feature documentary Conviction, the filmmakers committed to collaborating with women inside two prisons to create a film that gives them agency in telling their own stories.

During the creative process the women were asked to envision another reality, to describe what they would have needed on the outside to prevent them from coming into prison in the first place, and they all used art to answer that question.

“It wasn’t until I went to prison that I found my voice.” Ex-convict talks about her experience
Female inmates collaborate to envision alternatives to prison in documentary film

Throughout the making of Conviction, the women were trained in developing camera, sound and editing skills, and each woman was drawn to a different aspect of filmmaking – Caitlin recorded intimate video journals and still photographs, Bianca was immediately drawn to animation and videography, and Treena wrote and recorded poetry.

Their three films are each a window into their world and into a world that could be.

When Caitlin Hill took a camcorder home after being in prison at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility, she took hundreds of photos of abstract patterns she found in her environment. Caitlin created Layers of My Life from her writing and her photographs because she wanted to raise awareness about the stigma she’s experienced throughout her life, as someone who suffers from multiple mental health challenges.

Treena Smith has been in and out of prison over 50 times in the last 15 years. Her battle with addiction and domestic violence continues today. Ever since she picked up the camera, she has been confiding in it. In her short Unlovable, she works with the camera and her voice to explore some of her darkest thoughts.

In Bianca’s World we travel through ex-inmate, Bianca Mercer’s, ‘perfect world’ where children are not victims and people with mental health issues are treated, not imprisoned. Bianca has stayed out of prison since making this film, but continues to tell her incarceration story as an advocate for women inside.

Produced with additional funding from: