America ReFramed Acquires the Compelling Documentary 'A Woman on the Outside' to Open WORLD's 'Liberated Lives'


"Liberated Lives" is a collection of stories about individuals transitioning from incarceration to reintegration.

On March 28, A Woman on the Outside will premiere as part of the 12th season of WORLD's IDA Documentary Award-winning series America ReFramed to open our newest content theme, "Liberated Lives."

The award-winning documentary debut by directors Zara Katz and Lisa Riordan Seville and produced by Kiara C. Jones intimately chronicles incarceration's effect on families through the story of Kristal Bush, a Philadelphia social worker and entrepreneur whose van service transports riders, mostly women, to visit loved ones in faraway prisons. But when her father and brother return home after decades behind bars, Kristal has to figure out how to reunite her own family. 

A Woman on the Outside made its world premiere at the 2022 SXSW Film Festival. Awards include Best Documentary at the 2022 American Black Film Festival, Best North American Feature Documentary at the 2022 Mammoth Lakes Film Festival, Best Documentary at the Diamond State Black Film Festival and Honorable Mention for Humanitarian Excellence at the 2022 Woods Hole Film Festival.

"We started our collaboration with Kristal with a desire to explore an experience shared by millions of American women who support a loved one behind bars," said Riordan Seville. "What we discovered was not a prison story, but a story about family, love and how women care for themselves while caring for others.”

"The trust, generosity, honesty and humor Kristal and her family brought to this collaboration made this film a life-changing experience," said Katz. "We're proud and honored to have a film about women’s lives, told through a female lens, open WORLD's Liberated Lives initiative." 

"Liberated Lives" is an ongoing collection of films showcasing stories of individuals transitioning from incarceration to reintegration and the experiences of those who support them. Each documentary offers a unique perspective on the lives of formerly incarcerated Americans, exploring themes of societal change and the power of the human spirit. "Liberated Lives" films will be featured across WORLD’s programming, from America ReFramed and Local, USA, to Black Public Media’s AfroPoP. 

In addition to the broadcasts, the theme will host virtual events on WORLD’s digital platforms on YouTube and Facebook to foster deeper engagement through interactive discussions, filmmaker insights and community dialogues. Through these films and special events, "Liberated Lives" aims to further enrich the audience's experience, encouraging a more unique and multi-faceted understanding of the challenges and triumphs faced by those reentering society.

"At American Documentary, we believe that documentaries can make a difference in the way we see and move through the world," said Erika Dilday, executive director, American Documentary and executive producer, POV and America ReFramed. "Films featured in 'Liberated Lives' provide a unique opportunity for filmmakers to amplify the voices of people and families often marginalized because of incarceration, and celebrate their courage and contributions of not only rebuilding their lives, but also enriching the diverse narrative of America."

"From broad societal changes to shifts within a family dynamic, thousands of people who make the move from behind bars must adapt in the face of discrimination as they regain a place as a participant in everyday life," said WORLD's executive producer and editor-in-chief Chris Hastings. "Hope, bravery and trust create a throughline in the true stories we have gathered for 'Liberated Lives.' We hope that together the series will reveal a world of barriers rarely seen by most Americans, and open the door for empathy and conversation."

In addition to A Woman on The Outside, another feature acquisition making its national broadcast premiere as part of "Liberated Lives" is Commuted, a first-time co-presentation partnership between Black Public Media’s AfroPoP, ITVS, WORLD and American Documentary. New Orleans-based director Nailah Jefferson and Emmy®-nominated producer Darcy McKinnon recount the story of Danielle Metz, an African American mother putting her life together after her triple-life sentence was commuted by President Barack Obama. Following her release from prison, she graduated from Southern University, an HBCU in Baton Rouge, LA, and was recognized by President Obama for making the school’s dean’s list in 2019. Metz is currenlt a Community Health Worker for the FIT (Formerly Incarcerated Transition) Clinic.

Commuted premieres April 1, 2024 and will make an encore presentation on April 4, 2024.  

"Danielle Metz’s story reminds us of the countless individuals who are cast out of society without a clear way back, and the ripple effect on families and communities severely impacted by our aggressive criminal justice system," said Leslie Fields-Cruz, Black Public Media executive director. "It is crucial that we continue to lift up their stories so that they are never forgotten."

Rounding out the "Liberated Lives" line-up are the shorts What These Walls Won't Hold, Adamu Taye Chan's powerful documentary that shines a light on the transformative power of love and solidarity amidst adversity at San Quentin State Prison; and Hundreds of Thousands, directed by Christian Vasquez, which captures a family reeling from the unjust incarceration of an ailing mentally ill loved one.

What These Walls Won't Hold premieres on April 11, 2024 and Hundreds of Thousands premieres April 18, 2024. 

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