by Mark Elijah Rosenberg
March 13th, 2007

Macky Alston and Andrea Meller’s powerful documentary Hard Road Home exposes one of the most difficult and tragic issues facing the United States vast and growing prison population: what to do when you get out. You have become used to a static and structured life, where meals, clothes and shelter are provided for you. You are legally barred from many professions, and far more employers simply won’t hire you. And many of your friends and family members are just waiting for you to get busted again.

This film is about a non-profit non-governmental organization, run by former convicts, which helps people when they get out of jail. Based in East Harlem, the Exodus Transitional Community is simply amazing, going far beyond traditional social services. For example, they not only help you find a job listing, they’ll train you how to talk in an interview, give you a suit to wear, and give you a wake-up call to make sure you get there. Most of all, they provide an astonishingly caring community. In the film, when one of the instructors in the program has a drug relapse, the underpaid staff immediately takes up a collection for his family, and takes to the streets to find him. When he finally comes in after several days, he fully expected to be chastised and fired. Instead, his co-workers greet him with hugs, hot food, and words of encouragement.

The film itself is hard-hitting and delicately told, heartbreaking, uplifting and insightful, with in depth coverage and a fantastically effective structure which highlights the difficult struggle ex-convicts face and the astonishing power of the Exodus house. Julio Medina, the inspiring head of the program, was at the screening, and he said that Exodus is in grave danger as one of their major grants is drying up. That a program as effective and necessary as Exodus is in dire need of funding is, quite frankly, criminal, and I hope this film can be a catalyst to help this program and many others like it.


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Rooftop Films is a New York based non-profit whose mission is to engage diverse communities by showing independent movies in outdoor locations, producing new films, coordinating youth media education, and renting equipment at low cost to artists.


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