Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site debuts its latest project, Hidden Lives Illuminated, on August 15, 2019. The month-long project features nightly screenings of newly-commissioned, animated short films created by artists incarcerated at the Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution at Chester and Philadelphia’s Riverside Correctional Facility for Women.
Using a concert-grade digital projector, films will be screened onto a 20-by-30-foot area of Eastern State’s façade three times each night from August 15 through September 12, 2019. A total of 20 original short films will be shown throughout the month, offering a rare look inside America’s correctional system, conceived, narrated, and animated by incarcerated people. Screenings will be free and open to the public, and content will be appropriate for people of all ages. The event will be held each night, rain or shine.
Screenings will last approximately 40 minutes and occur three times nightly starting at 7:00 p.m., 8:00 p.m., and 9:00 p.m. The screenings will be grouped into four themed weeks: “The View from Inside,” “Criminal Justice Today,” “Family and Community Impact,” and “Restorative Justice.” During a given week, audiences will see about five original short films that touch on that week’s theme. Additional guest films, all created by filmmakers close to the criminal justice system or communities impacted by high rates of incarceration, will round out the nightly screenings.
In conjunction with each screening, additional programs will feature presentations by scholars, community leaders, activists, artists, victims’ advocates, and elected officials. Hands-on activities will provide families a chance to reflect on the films and discuss social and criminal justice issues. Program activities will include art-making, letter writing, lightning talks from leaders in criminal justice reform, restorative justice, reentry, and more.