In the United States, there are over 6.8 million people in prison, jail, on probation or parole. That is 1 in every 35 adults. Perhaps even more alarming is that women are the fastest growing segment of the incarcerated population, increasing at nearly double the rate of men since 1985.
The If Project is a feature-length documentary that explores the reasons behind these staggering numbers. The film follows a group of inmates incarcerated in a maximum- security women's prison who are part of a writing workshop co-created by a Seattle police detective and a repeat offender serving a nine-year sentence.
The writing workshop provides access to an emotional depth and intimacy we are not often afforded with those behind bars. We journey with them as they take a brutally honest look into their past and work to explore, often for the first time, what exactly led them to prison. These stories serve as a launching off point to follow three of the women in the program as they are released, reunited with their families and faced with life on the outside. Most astoundingly, they do all of this with a police officer by their side every step of the way. We watch as a lasting bond is formed and this unlikely partnership between cop and convict unfolds.
Awards & Special Screenings
*Winner* Special Jury Award & Lena Sharpe Persistence of Vision Award - Seattle International Film Festival
*Winner* Special Jury Commendation - Port Townsend Film Festival
*Winner* Audience Choice Award - Gig Harbor Film Festival
American Film Showcase Participant (Sponsored by US State Department)
Brooklyn Film Festival
IndieMemphis Film Festival
In The Press
"Giving one’s life some narrative shape in the form of a written autobiographical story can reveal patterns and trajectories that lead to the present moment. But what if that moment finds you in prison, apart from your children, home, and freedom? That’s the big question at the heart of The If Project, a documentary about a writing program for prisoners at the Washington Corrections Center for Women. Co-founded by two women at opposite ends of the criminal justice system—a Seattle police officer named Kim Bogucki and third-time offender and former cop hater Renata Abramson—the program is intended to slow or even stop cycles of dysfunction and lawlessness. The incarcerated women are asked, among other things, what one message might someone have told you that would have kept you from committing a crime? Answering that question on paper turns out to be a profound experience for many of the women here, some sobbing with self-awareness and deep regret. Further writing assignments focus on confessions, or the joys of simple things that are missed. For Bogucki, the point of all this is to understand better the forces that drive women onto a path that ends in imprisonment. For Abramson, the project—which is about a decade old now—has been transformative. Filmmaker Kathlyn Horan’s fly-on-the-wall, discreet presence with a camera captures something rare here: the look and sound of real vulnerability and courage in a world where survival is a challenge. Recommended." - Video Librarian
"Amid a heated national conversation about the militarization of police and the often toxic relationship between cops and civilians, the film could hardly be more timely." - The Hollywood Reporter
"Moving" - Seattle Times
"An important piece of media that every American should see as soon as possible." - The Huffington Post
About the Filmmaker
KATHLYN HORAN - Director/Producer/Writer
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Kathlyn Horan has been working as an independent director, producer and photographer for over 15 years. Her passion for social justice has led her to use the documentary medium as a way to bring stories to light that elevate awareness, connect communities and ignite discussion. She specializes in working in an embedded journalistic capacity with her subjects in order to allow the viewer an intimate journey into often unseen worlds. Her subjects range from some of the nations leading politicians, activists and artists such as Hillary Clinton, Gloria Steinem, Sheryl Crow, and Bill Maher in “A Voice for Choice” to Zen Buddhist monks in different stages of their practice in “What is Zen?” Her most recently completed film, One Lost Day follows Grammy-winning duo Indigo Girls as they head to Nashville to record with a young and untested music producer, Jordan Hamlin.