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Lycoming College presents a screening of “Pull of Gravity,” an elucidating documentary film about the life of incarcerated men and their reentry into society, Feb. 5, 7 p.m., at Williamsport’s Community Arts Center. Sponsored by the College’s department of criminal justice and criminology, the screening is free and open to the public.
Directed by El Sawyer and Jon Kaufman and filmed over the course of two years, “Pull of Gravity” is an intimate portrait of Kev, El and Andy, three individuals struggling to reintegrate into their community. As part of the 700,000 prisoners released every year, they find themselves faced with a chilling outlook: Sixty-seven percent of ex-offenders re-offend within three years. What explains this invisible force that keeps former inmates in a seemingly unending cycle of incarceration? “Pull of Gravity” shows each man’s head-on confrontation against the gritty details of lives cut short by poverty and drugs; where dealing is seen as the only route to economic prosperity, using an escape from powerlessness, and prison too often the next stop. The film’s unfiltered lens captures its subjects as they lay bare their stories, fears and tentative dreams.
“Communities play an incredibly important role in the success of individuals reentering society after incarceration. Lycoming chose to screen this documentary to help educate the college and local communities about the challenges individuals face months, years and even decades after being released from prison,” said Kerry Richmond, associate professor of criminal justice and chair of the department. “The film and subsequent Q&A discussion will help students put a face on the issues they study in the classroom, and help them better engage with their world and communities — a vital part of a liberal arts education.”
Although set on the streets of Philadelphia, the film will help viewers relate to struggles at a local level, where Lycoming County recognizes the barriers that are placed on individuals leaving the county prison, and is working on efforts to better assist those individuals by identifying their needs while incarcerated and trying to connect them with services prior to release. The Lycoming County Reentry Coalition, which started in 2016, is working to streamline services and to advocate on behalf on returning citizens to better ensure their success.
The Lycoming College’s department of criminal justice and criminology has a long-standing relationship with criminal justice agencies in Lycoming County, and is currently working to examine the recidivism outcomes of individuals who are released from prison and was also involved in the strategic plan for reentry in the county during 2015, the result of which was the forming of the Lycoming County Reentry Coalition.
“We want people to understand that not everyone who has gone to prison or jail is a ‘bad’ person, and we hope this film will help reduce the stigma that returning citizens face by giving viewers an insight into their experiences,” said Richmond.
More information on the film can be found at http://pullofgravityfilm.com/.