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Film Screening and Q&A—College Behind Bars

  • When
  • November 19, 2019 12:00–2:00 p.m.
  • Where
  • Open Society Foundations–New York
    224 West 57th Street
    New York, NY 10019
    United States of America
  • Speakers
  • Sarah Botstein, Alex Duran, Max Kenner, and Sebastian Yoon
  • Programs
  • Open Society-U.S.

College Behind Bars, a four-part documentary film series directed by award-winning filmmaker Lynn Novick, produced by Sarah Botstein, and executive produced by Ken Burns, tells the story of a small group of incarcerated men and women struggling to earn college degrees and turn their lives around in one of the most rigorous and effective prison education programs in the United States—the Bard Prison Initiative.

Shot over four years in maximum and medium security prisons in New York State, the four-hour film takes viewers on a stark and intimate journey into one of the most pressing issues of our time—our failure to provide meaningful rehabilitation for the over two million Americans living behind bars. Through the personal stories of the students and their families, the film reveals the transformative power of higher education and puts a human face on America’s criminal justice crisis. It raises questions we urgently need to address: What is prison for? Who has access to educational opportunity? Who among us is capable of academic excellence? How can we have justice without redemption?

This event will feature a screening of scenes from the film and a Q&A with the director and producer of the film and alumni of the Bard Prison Initiative.

The series airs on PBS on November 25 and 26.


  • Sarah Botstein


    Sarah Botstein is the senior producer of College Behind Bars.

  • Alex Duran


    Alex Duran is a program specialist in the Open Society-U.S. Justice Team and an alumnus of the Bard Prison Initiative.

  • Max Kenner


    Max Kenner is the executive director of the Bard Prison Initiative.

  • Sebastian Yoon


    Sebastian Yoon is a program specialist in the Open Society-U.S. Democracy Team and an alumnus of the Bard Prison Initiative.

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