16 Bars (DVD)
> Award-winning prison documentary film, released to coincide with the theatrical screening and soundtrack on CD and vinyl
> Produced by two-time Grammy-winner Todd “Speech” Thomas of Arrested Development
> 16 Bars offers a rare glimpse at the human stories and songs locked away in USA prisons
> The film follows a unique rehabilitation effort in a Virginia jail that encourages inmates to write and record original music
In the spring of 2017, Atlanta-based two-time Grammy-winner Speech, from the hip-hop crew Arrested Development, travelled to Virginia with the goal of recording an album behind bars. Speech was invited to the Richmond Jail by Sheriff C.T. Woody Jr., who was implementing a rehabilitation program that included job training, substance abuse treatment, group therapy, and a makeshift recording studio.
In a small concrete room on the jail’s 6th floor, Speech met with four men in the REAL program—Teddy, Anthony, Devonte and Garland—listened to their stories and collaborated with them on original compositions and lyrics. The process, captured by Brooklyn-based filmmakers at Resonant Pictures, became the documentary film “16 Bars.”
These recordings were captured in one jail, in one city, over the course of just a few weeks. And yet, the struggle, perspective and inspiration these four men express in their lyrics expose a much larger picture.
“This music is capturing this moment in time in our country,” says Speech. “We have the largest prison population on planet Earth. In some states, one in four black males are gonna spend time in prison. That’s a lot. And I know we don’t necessarily have all the solutions, but we’re also not asking the guys on the inside why they’re actually there. They have things that they need to be able to say to all of us.”
Speech Thomas is widely considered one of the godfathers of conscious hip-hop. His band Arrested Development’s 1993 debut album “3 Years, 5 Months & 2 Days in the Life of…” went quadruple platinum and achieved what few thought was possible at the time, establishing an Afrocentric alternative to gangster rap that was commercially viable. 25 years later, Speech continues to tour the world with his band and seek out opportunities to use music to address issues of social and racial justice.
• 4 individual music videos for songs created inside the prison recording studio
• Full Q&A after the World Premiere screening at DocLands Film Festival
• Theatrical Trailer
Todd “Speech” Thomas, Tennyson Jackson, Garland Carr, De’Vonte James, Anthony Johnston, Samuel Bathrick
“Best of 2018” – Vera Institute of Justice
Best Documentary – Downtown L.A. Film Festival
Audience Choice Award – DocLands Documentary Film Festival
“Profound… A hopeful look at the potential power of song and creativity to focus, empower and inspire.” – Los Angeles Times