A Storyville documentary: set inside a single room in Folsom Prison, three men from the outside participate in a four-day group-therapy retreat with a group of incarcerated men.
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This programme contains very strong language.
Gentlemen, can we all gather around here, please?
OK, when we walk in, we're absolutely quiet.
No talking, no joking, whatever.
We're going into a maximum security prison, and you're being watched right now.
I heard about the programme through a friend, and I think that this is a
path that I need to take, to better find out, you know,
who I am as a person and... You know what I'm saying?
As far as growing up in the streets and possibly being one of these inmates.
My desire to do this is to get shaken out of whatever it is
that's keeping me, like, stuck.
When I thought about the opportunity,
it seemed just crazy enough to, like, really wake me up a little bit.
You're doing great.
But I haven't yet decided how I feel about a hardened criminal who'd
killed somebody and is working through how to deal with that.
I don't know how to feel about that.
I've never really encountered... I've never met a person who killed another person.
I mean, it'll be scary but...
..that's kind of, I don't know, what keeps me sort of interested in it.
Like, the sensation of me being in danger has, like, a draw to it,
because it's not, you know, like the humdrum, you know - get in your car,
drive to work, you know, go home, drive to the gym, come back,
eat dinner and watch TV.
Can we all stand for a minute?
If you will, please close your eyes.
And I'd like for all of us to go inside, to go outside.
I will call a chant, "Simbaway",
the way the lion walks, the way the lion is,
the way the lion be so that we can be that way also.
And after I say that word,
you will answer, "Shoo."
Let me hear that sound one time.
And let it come from the navel.
Come on, now. I can't hear you. I can't feel you.
Now, just breathe into that.
Sound a little bit like a train for a minute.
The train has pulled into the station.
And you need to get on.
I'll show you.
Here we are. We finally all made it into this circle.
I have no idea what it's going to look like.
I would be lying if I said I did.
All I know is that there are a bunch of really intense, dedicated,
committed men sitting in this circle who are willing to go anywhere with you...
..however you need to go, and whatever way that looks like.
I just want to throw this out.
Over the years, I keep hearing these distinctions about guys from the
streets and guys from prison.
I say fuck all that.
And we're in here, struggling the best way we know how.
Our guys in prison...
..we're going to come in here, we're going to be authentic.
We're not going to be who we are out there on the yard.
I ask that of you guys too.
You know who you are out there on the streets.
Be more than that.
Not just us,
not just the guys who have to wear fucking blue.
But all of us. Let's be...
For four days, let's be...
..what we could be.
Let's...let's be that.
All right, so...
Here's what I want you to listen up to.
In a moment,
you're going to go across this space and pick one of these guys.
Look carefully and choose carefully.
Cos this is an important choice.
You're going to be with this man that you choose for these next four days.
Don't cheat yourself. Don't just wait for it to happen any old way.
Get who you want.
Move to where you need to move.
So, here we go.
-Take him back to where you were. Put him behind you.
Let's do it in silence.
Get him, get him, get him.
Go, go, go.
Get him, go.
OK, so, take the men who are behind you.
Grab some chairs, sit down together, and tell each other who you are.
Start there. Just start right there.
Tell each other who you are. Introduce yourselves.
My name is Charles Tait.
-Do you go by Charles?
Yeah. Yeah. Born and raised in LA all my life.
South Central, pretty much all over the place in LA.
One of the reasons why I agreed to come here was because my biological father was
in prison when I was born, so that's probably why one of my biggest,
biggest fears is being locked up, you know what I'm saying?
Aside from dying, you know what I mean?
So, tell me what...
What do you...?
What are you looking for here?
Why did you come and what are you really...?
What's your goal?
I thought... I thought it was going to be to, erm...
..like, figure out, like, maybe it would bring me
some clarity and I thought,
coming in here and talking with you guys, I'd get
some sense of why I've gone through my life with a lot of opportunities,
and I haven't really taken a lot of them, and I'm now 25 years old, and...
..I am no closer to figuring out what I want to do with my life than I was
when I was 15 or 16.
And when you guys walk out on the yard, like...
I mean, you guys have been here for a while.
I mean, you look like a little kid.
I mean, really.
You look young, too. All you've got to do is shave it off.
Yeah. No, I'll look younger.
I'm assuming that there's guys that don't like to come out there, but maybe I'm wrong.
I mean, what goes on?
Exercise, law library.
-Being able to see other people interact and mingle.
But what's with your interest in how the situation is in prison?
I'm just trying to grasp, like,
what life you're going back to when you walk out of the room, I guess.
-Can I ask both you guys a question?
Number one, what got you here and how long have you been here?
What got me here was one count of murder, three counts of robbery.
I've been here 22 years.
And I'm from San Diego, California.
South-east, West Coast Crip.
I'm no longer affiliated.
I got, like, 75 years.
Yeah, I got a lot of time.
As far as these circles are concerned,
I've been in these circles for years.
I've been locked up 19 years.
I'm in my 19th year now.
I'm doing seven-to-life.
Kidnapping for purposes of robbery.
I started stealing and that was...
There's some sense of excitement, you know,
and I was getting away with things, you know, and then eventually,
I didn't get away with it. You know, and I was 18.
And I've been in here ever since. I'm 39 now, so...
I almost chopped a guy in half.
They found me guilty. They found me guilty for attempted murder.
I paralysed the guy for life.
I literally sat on his chest with a knife like that. Big, just...
I cut a line, a jagged line across his stomach,
trying to cut this dude in half.
Part of me believes that that's just what the fuck life is,
and there's nothing I can do, think, be taught, to change it.
To change what exactly?
Life or the bullshit?
My life and my place in life.
Because of where you're at right now?
Like, physically right here?
No, no, no, no. In your life and your place in it.
Where you're at right now.
Would you be willing to go into these four days
open to finding a new way to look at it?
Not to fix them, not to make them go away.
-But to be able to look at them from another perspective.
-From another perspective?
Yeah, I'm willing to do that.
Cos this shit doesn't work.
-You know, it doesn't. It just fucking doesn't.
-You need anything during this break?
-Some water or some shit.
-Get some water.
-Do you guys want anything?
-You all right?
-I'm good, thank you.
We got one. A real live wire.
We do. I saw him laughing and marvelling,
cos I see myself, I said, "Man...
"Man, you don't even know."
-It's like looking in a mirror. It's looking in a mirror.
Let's do a check-in. Any man can start one, and we'll go around checking in.
What I want out of this weekend...
I want to be able to get out of my way.
I want to stop being my own worst enemy, and be able to connect with anybody
I cross paths with.
I want us to be able to stand together and be kissed by God together.
That's what I want. Amen.
I'm Dark Cloud. In these four days...
I want to... I want to... I want to be vulnerable.
I want to be vulnerable.
And I don't want to be scared to be vulnerable.
Cos every time, every time I've made myself vulnerable, I've been hurt and...
Amen with that.
I'm checking in, wanting to touch certain parts of my life.
I want to touch on the fears that I have, my fear of loss and my family,
of not knowing how they're doing...
..or what they're going through.
I want to get into it. I just want to get into this.
Well, let's stand up.
And if we just move the chairs back a little bit, without too much noise...
I need each man in this group...
..to help me get to a place that I've been denying myself.
I haven't grieved...
..for my sister in a long time, and I don't know how.
I'm tired of holding this in.
I'm tired of having that fear of whether they are concerned about when I get there,
that I've got to pull back.
I want to be open to it.
I want to just let the floodgates open, but right now,
as you brothers can tell, I've got fear.
Yeah. What's the fear about?
That I'll lose something that I've had for so long.
That I'll lose that protective shield, that armour that I wore, that vest.
Could you describe that piece of armour to me?
That one that keeps you, you know, keeps you from having to do that?
The armour looks like this.
It's not OK to cry.
It's not OK to mourn.
It's not OK to show that you have tears.
It's not OK.
I want to feel what it feels like to mourn.
I want to feel that.
I don't want to bottle up that little kid,
that little kid that used to cry when his daddy used to whup his ass.
Excuse my language.
I don't want to deny him...
..what he's always wanted.
I don't want to take away what my dad took away from me.
-Stay with it.
-I don't want to feel that pain no more, man!
I don't want... I don't want to feel like I can't feel any more.
I want to be able to cry, because my sister died.
I want to be able to feel, because I can't hug my mom.
That's what I want to feel.
I don't want to feel like no damn puppy.
I don't want to feel like no sucker out here that just don't got no emotions.
I want to feel like me.
I don't want to be afraid of that. I don't want to have to pull back.
-You trust me?
-I trust you.
Well, let's step into that gear.
Open up. Open up to that feeling.
Trust me. Take me there with you.
I'll go there with you.
I won't let anything happen. I've got you.
You know I'm fighting this.
I know. Stick with it.
I'm right here. I'm not going anywhere.
Feel it. Open up.
Let your hands go. Open up.
Don't put that armour back up.
Don't put that shield back up.
And what do you feel about that?
Feel that sadness.
Don't stop it. Don't run from it.
May I touch your jaw?
Just relax your mouth. May I touch it?
Trust me. May I touch your jaw?
-OK, relax your mouth.
Open it up a little bit. Open it up a little bit.
Just relax, let it go.
And just breathe.
Breathe through here.
Yeah. Keep breathing.
It's been a long time since your body...
Relax your jaw. Relax it.
Let it go, let it go.
Let it open, let it open.
HE BREATHES IRREGULARLY
-There it is, there it is.
-We've all got your back.
-We've all got your back.
-Breathe, bring it up.
Bring it up.
Let it go. Let it go.
Let it go.
Let it go.
It's been in there too long. Don't hold it in.
OH, GOD DAMMIT!
-Yeah, that's it, that's it.
-Tell him you're right here.
-I'm right here.
I'm right here with you, brother.
I'm right here, brother. Stay with it.
-Let him let it out.
Damn it! Damn you!
What the hell did you...?
-It hurts, I know it hurts. Let it out.
-That's it, bro, go ahead.
-I'm still here, I'm still here.
-I'm still here.
-I'm still here.
-We're right here.
Where you at right now? Talk to me.
-Where you at?
Talk to me.
I'm right here, I'm right here. Just talk to me.
Let me know where you at.
HE CATCHES BREATH
-Talk to me.
Don't hide it. Don't run.
-Take it in.
-It's already done.
-Don't run, come here.
It's fucked up, I feel it.
Yeah? That's not fucked up.
-You know what I'm saying?
-Charles, it's fucked up if you don't.
Just feel it. Just feel it.
-I didn't expect this shit.
No, you wouldn't have came if you did.
Just let it be.
I'm right here. I'm right here.
Let's get some water.
-Where you at? Talk to me.
-You're tired, yeah.
-OK. That's good work.
There you go, man.
No punches! No punches.
All right. Man...
I know I don't know you like that, man, but...
Tell him. Tell him. Tell him.
It meant a lot, yeah, like, you...
Keep it up, keep it up.
You got me. For real.
That took a lot of fucking balls to do what you just did.
You know what I'm saying?
-You can tell you're a very, very proud motherfucker, you know what I'm saying?
That was some...
That was some real, real shit, man, for real.
That fucked me up. Thank you.
Well, any man can start.
Let's check in, to check out for the evening.
I'm checking in and checking out.
Yeah, that was overwhelming.
But it was needed and it was necessary.
And I'm very, very, very grateful, from my heart.
I'm out with that.
I got big love for you, Kiks.
There's no words. I ain't even going to even try and belittle it with words.
I'm having an impossible time not judging what the fuck's going on.
I'm placing all sorts of fucking values on the work that I saw,
the help of the work, er...
I don't like being in that place, because...
I'm just kind of struggling.
I don't like judging all this shit, but that's what I fucking do.
You did a good job, you did an all right job, you know?
You ran a quarter of a mile, you've still got three more to fucking go.
-And that's it. I'm out.
I like my two guys a lot.
I think they, er... I think they want...
..they want me to crack.
They keep, like, waiting for me to, like, er, to do something.
So... I don't know.
Like, I realise that we live in a society where we shy away from,
..showing emotion and expressing ourselves through tears
but, I mean, I don't...
I don't think that that's a necessity, either,
in a situation like this, that you have to start crying.
I think in the case of Kiki, he did.
-That's what he was there for.
He said, "I need to mourn for my sister,"
and they got him there, and that was exactly what he needed.
But I didn't come here looking to cry,
and I don't want to feel like I'm letting them down if I don't.
Find a chair and let's go into silence.
Please sit down, find your chair...
..and let's go into silence, gentlemen.
This whole process of going down into the wound...
..is not an end in itself.
We're looking for something
and we're bringing something back out of that descent.
So listen for it in this poem.
It comes right in the last line.
"Those who will not slip beneath the still surface on the well of grief,
"drifting downward through the black water to the place we cannot breathe
"can never know the source from which we drink.
"The secret water, cold and clear."
Now, listen... "Nor find in the darkness glimmering
"the small, round coins
"thrown away by those who wished for something else."
Hey, can we...
..kind of try something here to where we just...
..just go round and name our betrayals,
where we've been betrayed?
And just so you know, I have no agenda.
I have no process...
..and I... I know you're going to judge me.
I want you to know that.
Because I'm judging you judging me.
My earliest memory is when I'm, like, three years old...
..and I'm standing there in a fucking diaper...
..and my real dad just got home from the Navy,
and I don't know who the fuck he is.
And he's got this fucking battery-operated robot
that's flashing and making all kinds of weird-ass fucking noises...
..and he wants me to come get it.
I don't want that motherfucking thing.
I don't know who the dude is.
I don't want nothing to do with him.
He tells me, "Ricky, come get this."
And I'm scared.
So, he walks over and he slaps the shit out of me,
and he goes back and sits on the steps, tells me, "Come get this."
And we played that out for I don't know how long.
In my mind, it's...hours.
And my whole life has followed with events just like that one.
And I don't know who my real dad is, either.
I know when I started fucking up enough when I was 15,
they sent me to live with some dude who said that he was my dad,
and he's a piece of shit.
He's a fucking drunk, he's a liar, he's got a 14-year-old girlfriend -
and I had 15 years' worth of rage I wanted to give to him.
I hurt that motherfucker every way I knew how to hurt him...
..and then I heard the same story -
"You're fucking crazy, you're crazy, lock him up."
People's betrayed me my whole life.
The bike gang I was a member of -
once I got locked up and I was no use to them no more, they were done.
The people I was willing to kill and die for, they were done.
I don't know what love really looks like.
I'm just now fucking learning.
47 years old and I'm just now learning.
I don't want to fucking be violent -
and that's what I know how to do.
Growing up, all my homeboys and them,
everybody had their father to do shit with, you know what I mean?
I had a man that helped raise me, but he wasn't my father.
You know what I'm saying? You know, and...
..he was in prison in Louisiana when I was born...
..and, er, I read a couple of letters that he wrote to my mother.
He never referred to me as "my son", you know.
It was like, "How's the baby?" And...
It was fucked up, man.
I mean, how can you not want to see your child?
You know what I'm saying? I'm a good motherfucker.
At least, I think so. You know?
And that shit hurts, man, cos, you know, I don't know my...
..never knew my place in this world, you know what I'm saying?
You know, nobody to teach me how to be a man.
I had to do that shit on my own, you know?
I don't even know all the story,
I don't even know if he even walked out of prison.
You know what I mean? But I just felt that, you know, if he did...
..you know, he knew where I was.
You know what I'm saying?
I felt that he should have fucking tried to find me.
You know, I'll be 41 years old next year...
Well, next month. And, erm...
I've always felt that empty spot in my life, man.
Like I was always missing something, like a part of me.
You know, and... And that's some hurtful-ass shit, man.
That's some hurtful-ass shit.
"But" takes away everything that came before, so...
I just try to be...
..what he wasn't to my...
I try to be to my kids what he was not for me.
Well, explain that. How are you able to fill that space?
Number one, being there.
Constantly letting them know how much I love them.
Not just through material things, but actually saying the words,
giving them hugs and kisses, you know.
-Do you think they feel any of that sadness that you
pour out in an attempt to feed them love?
So, what's...? There's some sadness that's right there on the verge
right now. Why won't you let it out?
I thought I did.
It's right there. And then you started biting your lip.
Almost as if to hold it in, to keep it from coming out.
What you think will happen if it comes out, man?
If that overwhelming sadness starts to come up out of you,
what do you think will happen?
-I couldn't tell you.
-Right. But what do you think will happen?
I know you don't know, but what do you think will happen?
If this is... If this is the limit of where you can get to right now,
this is where you can get to.
We're not measuring shit.
So if you're completely, you know,
you're good with where you're at right now, then let's move around,
keep going round the circle.
This ain't easy, you know. And for the first time, it's really not easy.
I mean, there's so many motherfucking betrayals.
I've visited my betrayals over and over and over again.
I think the one that...
..that I absolutely feel like is a betrayal and happened when I was about 16 or 17,
and this older brother kind of took me under his wing.
He treated me like his little brother.
He taught me how to drink.
He taught me how to smoke weed.
He taught me how to do all this shit. And he... And I trusted him.
And I started to open my heart to him.
It was my first sexual experience with this woman and I told him about it.
And this motherfucker...
We were working together, and I go to work the next day and this
motherfucker, he's told everybody about the shit that I had told him
-that I thought was...
Was sacred, safe.
And then when I brought it to the motherfucker, what he tells me is,
"Oh, you pussy motherfucker.
"You just finally got some pussy, so what you tripping about?!"
And that shit hurt me.
And from that point forward,
I made a conscious decision that nobody would ever get me in that
position again where I feel like that.
And what I decided to do was that not only was I not going to feel
hurt about that, I wasn't going to feel hurt about any fucking thing.
So the next thing was getting high.
The next thing after that was heroin.
I was a heroin addict for 22 years because I didn't want to fucking feel.
Can I say something?
When you were talking about how this guy, uh,
aired your laundry, and I think the word you were looking for was "sacred"
cos Lonnie said it, um...
And you weren't going to show anybody whatever you connect to the
sacred thing inside of you, whatever feelings, but what I noticed about you...
Again, I don't know if this is accurate or not.
..is that you wear this sacred stuff
so everybody can see it. But what you told
me, at least, what I heard a second ago was that that's not what you're
showing people. So that's something that keeps me kind of distant from
you. Which may be my own head fucking trip.
Is it? Yeah, I want to know that.
-Is that your head trip?
-All this you just said.
-That capacity to...
The capacity to judge me, motherfucker. That.
To judge me when I'm telling you I'm putting my motherfucking heart
out there. Is that your motherfucking head trip?
Is that what you do, sit there and judge me?
-That's what I just did.
-This is what you do, Brian.
-Is that what you do in your life?
Cos that shit you just said was un-fucking-necessary.
-Was it untrue?
-Yeah, it's untrue, bitch!
-Let's do this. Hold on, hold on.
-Did I call you a bitch?
-hold on! Hold on.
-Hold on. Hold on.
Let's put this where it belongs, not where it can go.
OK? And right now where it belongs...
Look at me, Brian.
Look at me, Brian.
Look at me.
What's going on, Brian?
HE SHRIEKS IN RAGE
It's just like the fucking devil.
It's in there, and, as long as you keep biting this down,
it's not going anywhere.
Don't bite it back down.
Don't bite it back down. You're right there.
You're right there. Look back over the edge.
Let's go back over the edge. Let's go back over the edge.
Now is the chance to see what you've got in there.
Now's the chance to measure yourself to see where you're at.
To see where you stack up against your own standards.
We already know you can bite it down.
Can you let it out? Can you let it loose?
I just want to fucking kill people when I feel disrespected.
I just want to fucking kill.
My fucking brain starts to short-circuit.
I... I hear you, Brian.
You know what came up with me, Brian, that had that come out of me?
Anger and betrayal.
Because what I was talking about just then was how I put my feelings
And then get it turned into something else,
and for me what I experienced just then was just that, betrayal.
It doesn't matter what I do here,
I'm not going to get the respect that I want...
..or that I think I deserve or some bullshit like that.
I'm just not going to fucking get it.
I'm just not.
So what do we do? What do you want to have happen here?
What will get you to a place where you think there's a possibility rather than you being so secure
in knowing no matter what I do it's not going to work, it's going to be the same?
I just don't know what to do with it.
I hear you. That's good. So, are you open to suggestion
of what it could look like?
Are you willing to trust without thinking and then drawing away?
Yeah, I instantly want to go to "Is it big enough?"
Oh, I get all of what your mind says which is in the draw-away process.
I'm asking you, are you willing
to simply trust a process to step through the motions and not worry
about whether it's going to work or not or what the "it" is?
-Are you willing to do that?
You guys stand up. If anybody's got any physical body issues, I want to
know it, need to know it, because this is going to be physical work.
And what I want you to do is I want you to know that we are all here
hoping for things that you say can't happen.
Get the fuck off of me!
Get the fuck off of me, motherfuckers!
-Get the fuck...
-It's in you.
-It's in you.
-Get your fucking arms off me, you fucker...
-Let it out.
-Let it out.
-Let it out.
-Let it out.
-Let it out, Brian.
-Let it out.
Stay down. Stay down.
Motherfucking goddamn it!
Let it out. Let it go.
Open your eyes. Open your eyes.
You need to be able to see what's going on with you.
Look at me, Brian.
-Yeah, who am I, Brian? Who am I?
-My dad said I didn't have this.
Yeah, that's right. Who am I?
Look at me. Who am I? When you look at me, who am I?
Do it. Do it, there you go.
-Yeah. That's it. That's right.
-Open your eyes. Give it a noise.
Give it a noise.
Cos everybody's getting this sideways.
-Everybody's getting this sideways, Brian.
Girlfriends, friends, strangers...
Let it out. Keep your eyes open.
Keep your eyes open.
-I'm fucking telling you, man, let me go.
-All right. All right.
-This is about letting energy go. That's all it's about.
Giving yourself permission to let energy go.
-What are you feeling right now?
-Like I've still got something to prove to you guys.
-What do you still have to prove?
-Did he do more?
Cos I want to fucking do more.
Is that Dad's voice? This is not enough, you'll never have enough?
Is that Dad's voice?
-Keep your head up.
-I don't know whose voice it is.
-Now it's my voice.
-It's not your voice.
But is it familiar? Is it a voice that says you're self-judging?
I would just close, shut down when he would...
Sports, all that shit. Shut down.
You didn't just make that shit up.
That's a tool. You made that tool somewhere for a reason.
Let's go back to being not good enough for my dad,
-not good enough at sports.
-Yeah, that's where I'm standing now.
-I've got to prove more to you guys.
Do you want to do one more? Do you want to do one more?
Are you willing to go into the well and just bring something up?
That's all we're doing here.
This is just a start.
There are not going to be any scorecards.
I guess I can't go any harder than I did. I could just do it
-again and again.
-That's more and more.
-That's the truth.
Are you willing to try that? Do you want to do that?
I don't need to, when I think of it that way.
-You said you don't need to.
-You're saying you don't need to.
When you think about it like that, you don't need to.
That's power, you're giving yourself power right there, dude.
That's another way to look at it.
You don't need to do it again and again.
You don't need to prove anything...
..to anybody. That's your power.
So, Brian, these are steps. You've taken one. It doesn't get fixed here
-like a light switch being flipped.
So I want to say something.
This doesn't mean anything. It's actually stupid.
But I'm moved to say it.
Um... When you go back out in the world and people go,
"What happened to your head?", you can say, "Oh, I was in Folsom.
"I was fighting in prison."
And that pretty much puts a cap on any concept of competing or competition.
So you may want to keep that fresh up there.
Tell them there was a bunch of dudes jumped me...
-Seven of them.
-..and this is all they could do.
-This is all they could do.
-No, but seven... He fought seven convicts.
I ain't never done that.
I ain't never done that.
Hey, Brian, bless your heart, man. Bless your heart.
Can you take that in?
-Looks like it's touching something.
And you know what I do when I...
You remind me sometimes of me a little bit, and getting in touch with that.
I used to put my head down and then I learned to cry like a man,
which was, like, up here.
And with your chin up and just let it roll, brah.
It's beautiful. It's beautiful, seeing you in a natural state.
I did not like you.
I did not like you.
I had the same disease you did.
I had gangs and gangs with judgments.
I changed my view on you.
You are a lot like me.
You think too much. You judge too much.
But you're a pretty courageous dude.
You didn't quit, and I seen you fight yourself so you wouldn't quit.
And I connected with that.
You know, we just started getting close. I'm doing good.
I'm trying to change my ways and trying to quit gangbanging
and everything to where...where he can... OK, well,
my dad is in prison but he's a good dude, you know what I'm saying?
-He's still trying to... You know what I'm saying? He even changed and everything.
There's negative, negative things about his self, he knows it.
You know what I'm saying?
And be the best I can be for him, so he can say...
-I'm half-ass proud of me, and stuff.
-And she took him.
She just don't come no more?
Yeah, she won't bring him. You know, but she told me she will,
-but it's just gangs and stuff.
I'm tired of trying to see, man.
There's not nothing I can do to make it work, man.
-Nothing I can do or say, man.
Let me just see my son.
So I want you to hear this, man, that we all have these things
that we have to create for ourselves to keep going from day to day,
whether we're in here or we're out there. I have them too.
And I had to find something, something to hold on to, you know?
I've got to find something to hold on to, and if I've got to create it
for myself, then I've got to create it for myself.
I'm dealing with too much pressure from the system, man,
and just being in jail and incarcerated.
I mean, I can die, man, any day, man, and wouldn't nobody even know,
wouldn't nobody even care,
and they'll just bury me somewhere on this prison ground or something.
This shit don't work, man.
It's not working.
It doesn't work, man. I'm ready to just quit this shit, man,
and whatever happens, man, happens, man.
I just want to sit next to you now, that's all.
That's all. Just sit next to you.
I'll just sit next to you.
I'm sorry, man. I'm sorry.
I'm sorry, man.
Not very often, someone will take me to a place I don't know where to go,
and I'm sitting there right now,
and I'm sorry.
It's sad, man.
Facing one of my fears by, you know, agreeing to do this,
you know, and...
I know why I fear this so much, it's fucked up in here.
You know? Um...
It's dark, it's scary, it's depressing.
You know, and...
All he wants to do is see his son, man.
All he wants to do is see his baby boy.
That hurts me.
It hurts me a lot.
I've never felt like I couldn't go on.
This shit's breaking my heart, man, like for real, for real.
And I pray to God, man, that you find some type of hope to live.
Don't give up, man, please.
I don't know you like that, but I feel you.
Don't give up, man. Seriously, do not give up.
Fight to live every single day, man, for real.
Fight for your son, man.
Nothing else. He's going to need you.
I've got something I need to do.
That shit that you're talking about doing is bullshit...
..and you know it.
That's the coward's way out that you're trying to take.
Ain't no cowards where I'm from.
What I need you to do is grow the fuck up and do what you've got to do
for little Dante.
Do you hear me?
Do you hear me?
Do you feel me?
I feel you, man.
Can I get that?
Can I get that?
Can I get that?
-I need you to do that for me, please.
I need you to do that for me.
Give me some time. Give me a little bit of time.
Can you give me some time so we can try to figure out a way to work something out?
Can you give me that?
-I don't know.
-Give me three months.
Give me three months.
If we ain't came up with a solution in three months for something,
then you can do whatever you want to do.
Can I get 90 days?
90 days. Give me 90 days and we'll figure something out, all right? All right.
Clean yourself up. People are looking.
SCREAMING FROM ACROSS ROOM
I'm good, man. Let's...let's move on.
Let's move on.
Let's pull together right now. Stand up. Get together before something fucking weird happens right now.
We've got to get together. We've got to be so close, we can't even have
the space to have anything fuck it up right now.
Just feel what happened. Just feel what happened.
Just feel what happened.
I'm tired of motherfuckers getting hurt.
I'm tired of us getting on the fucking edge and giving up.
So let's remember Don, he talked about the intent,
right there next to the wound, right there next to the pain.
When we go deep and we go down to the bottom,
right there next to where we hurt the most is where our medicine is at.
Let's remember that. Stretched, like you said, Rick, stretched.
We've got to get stretched to be able to come back with them shiny coins.
Somebody's got to have some shiny coins.
The coins have all got blood on them.
Yeah. They're still gold.
I'm tired of the blood.
So let's wipe them off.
Tired of the blood.
I'm fucking tired of the people I love giving up!
Dammit, what are we doing?
When do I give up?
-When do I give up?
Why can't we be enough to hang on to?
OK, so here's what we're going to do.
Erm, you're going to have your guides help you build a little fort,
a little place of security.
We've got some mattresses.
We've got blankets. And your guides have done this, so they'll...
They know how to do it.
But find a spot where you feel safe...
..and then build yourself a little cave,
a little fort.
Have your guides guard you and remember that they're awake for you
so that nobody will bother you.
So we're going to begin to lower the lights.
I want you to follow my voice.
And I want you to follow my instructions.
I want you to imagine you're floating above your own body.
I want you to imagine...
..floating higher and higher.
As you float...
..the roof of this building.
Nothing can harm you.
Nothing can touch you.
As you move further and higher and further away from this place...
..until there is no place.
And then off in the distance, you see something.
It's a little dot at first, a small something.
But you look up and you're looking into the face of a child.
You're looking into the face of you when you were a boy.
And you're asking, "What is the deepest need?"
What's the thing you needed?
What is it, the thing that would have kept you safe...
..made you grow up whole, balanced, healthy?
And he reaches up and he grabs your ear with one little hand and he
pulls it down and he whispers in your ear...
..that deepest need,
that thing that he would have needed...
..to grow in the direction that you would have wanted him to grow in.
And when you're ready...
..I want you to write down your little boy's deepest need.
I didn't expect it.
Someone put out an invitation for the men who just took this journey
to share about their experience, share what they have in their journal.
Laying in the fort with my boys on the side of me...
..I still felt vulnerable.
Not physically, but emotionally I felt vulnerable.
Then when the drums started going and you started talking and I left,
I was gone, you know. I forgot I was even here.
And I saw, you know, little seven-year-old Charles,
Jackson 5 afro, you know what I mean?
Do you know what I'm saying?
I brought back...
..to be able to be a kid and not move from place to place.
To have a real father.
To not have to grow up so fast and take care of everything and
everybody and to be an actual family.
Phew, that was deep.
Something that I've done for a long time is to rub the back of my thumb
and I probably started it when I was, like, seven maybe
and it used to bug the shit out of my dad.
But I think it just reminds me...
..of the softness.
Anyway, the little boy...
His deepest need is to not be told what to do.
-Bless you, Brian.
I guess I'll go next.
I've been kind of emotionally detached from this whole thing and I
didn't really think or give it the credit that it would get me at all.
And I'll be honest, we got in there and that music started and I was like,
"What is this hokey shit?
"This is like space music." And I was like... And I didn't...
I know that sounds harsh but that's what I do.
I'm always framing it.
I frame my experiences so that I can laugh about them later
and I went with it,
which I don't normally do, and I haven't cried in, like...
..I don't know how long.
It felt good.
And basically all I brought back was an image of myself when I was happy.
And I've got a little red hoodie on,
a little metal zipper and...
Yeah, I think I'm in with that,
because I was out for the whole other time.
Nice to see you showed up, man.
Good to see you. I'm clocking in, only a little tardy.
-Thank you, guys.
There was a few times today that...
..emotions really tugged at me
and something kept telling me, man, jump in there, jump in the fire,
jump in the fire.
And every time I get to that place, I run, you know?
I pack up and I leave.
But I'm checking out with a...
..little bit of joy, though, because I feel I have gotten a lot closer to Chris.
So I'm checking out with that. I'm out.
I hate this shit.
I want to beat the shit out of somebody, man.
And I've done that too many times.
When my mom and dad got split up, I lived with my mom,
because my dad was alone and I felt like he needed one of his sons to be
with him. I told my mom that I wanted to live with my dad,
and she didn't want me to, she kept telling me what kind of a scumbag he
is and he's all these bad things.
And I didn't believe her. I said, "No, he's not all that, you're lying."
But every time he fell I picked him up.
Every time he needed something, I was there.
Whenever he needed his son, I was there.
I feel like it was all just a fucking scam because everything he
fucking taught me has got me here!
I didn't know how much my mom needed me, I didn't even think about that!
I don't know why I betrayed her!
We're all going to go home, we're all going to go home.
I just fucking hurt people, man.
I know, I know.
-I don't want to hurt anybody no more.
-No, no, no.
I don't want to hurt anybody no more.
-I'm here for you.
-We're here already.
We're already here, let's keep doing it.
We're already here.
-We're already here.
-We have stood by you, pal, come on. You stood by me.
Let your pain out.
We're already there, pal, just let it go.
We're already there.
I know how it feels.
Just stand up.
Come on, don't do it, man.
Don't do it.
The betrayal that I...
..I'm hesitant to share...
YELLING FROM ACROSS ROOM
..for whatever reason...
..comes from my dad.
And it feels to me so much smaller than a lot of the things that have
happened to many other people,
so I also get frustrated even that I feel it at all.
But I will keep it short.
I have a very clean memory, a very vivid memory of...
My dad used to work on cars a lot,
and he used to spend a lot of time in the garage.
And I know at one point I tried to help him.
It was probably something small,
and I think I went out there and he needed a particular tool,
and I couldn't find it, I couldn't see it, I didn't know what it was,
and he tried to describe it to me, and I couldn't find it, and I...
And I brought it back to him, what I thought it was, and he said,
"That's not it." And I kept going back and forth, finally he said,
"I'll do it myself." And he went and he grabbed it and he said, "Just go back inside.
"Go back with your mom."
He did that a lot when I was growing up, he always wanted...
I always tried to make the effort and I got kind of shut down.
And I haven't yet figured out why,
but it really bothers me.
Well, if you did know why...
..what would the reason be that it would bother you?
I don't know, I just wanted to be out there with him.
And he wouldn't let me.
I feel really dumb.
You're doing good, you're doing real good.
He didn't mean to hurt me, though.
I'm not mad at him.
I feel bad telling this story.
Have you ever had the chance to tell your dad
how much that hurt you?
Is that something that you'd be willing to do?
Yeah, I think so.
I'd like to tell him that someday.
Well, I mean, we can create the space for you to do it today.
If there was somebody in the circle here
that can hold the energy of your father,
somebody in here that you see that holds qualities and energy
like your father does.
-Can I tell you?
-So, where do you want me?
That's fine right there.
I just want to help you.
We can work on the car together.
And you can teach me some things.
What was the message you got?
-What's the story?
-You said, "I'll do it by myself, go back in the house."
What's the message you got?
I wasn't going to be the man he wanted me to be.
Right, and so you've been carrying that for a while, right?
And how has that played out in your life?
-I haven't known how to beat it, really.
-So what does that look like?
How have you carried that in your life?
Through your jobs?
I can't come in to any of it.
It just scares me, I don't know why.
I don't know what I'm doing here.
-Then, that's good.
-You know, why I'm crying.
That's perfect, that's perfect.
That's perfect. You're doing perfect.
And it starts here. You've already started your work. Stand up.
This is what happens. You've got to deal with your father.
You signed a contract the moment you walked in that house.
That last time you walked in the house,
you cut a contract with your father to feel as though you are the guy
that cannot get the job done.
And it's haunted it. You've used it.
You've fulfilled the contract that's haunted you throughout your life.
And your whole body tells me that's true right now.
-I know that truth hurts.
So here's what you're going to do.
Each one of these men identifies something, some sort of a block.
Your job is to get through this.
-Are you tracking with that?
Turn around, turn around and face him now.
Look at me.
Now, stand up. Fucking stand up.
There, you're taller than me right now.
-Do you get that?
-You're stronger, you're stronger.
Know that it's OK to hurt, know that it's just fine.
You've got some bad dudes that got your back.
And even though you've got us at your back, turn around and face
these things in your life and see what it's cost you.
What's it cost you when you're down here?
What's it cost you?
It is, just now, the whole first day, I couldn't feel anything.
I couldn't commit to anything.
So, this man's going to point you towards what that represents,
that you can't feel.
Walk up to the arm. Put your chest on the arm.
Put your chest on the arm and look at what it's cost you.
Go back in the house with your mother.
-With some intention.
-Stand up straight, stand up straight.
-Go back in the house...
Stand up straight.
..with your mother!
-Stand up straight.
-I don't need you out here.
-This is not using your chest, son.
-Don't look at me like that.
You know what you need, you can take care of yourself.
-Go back in the house with your mother.
-Don't listen to that shit.
-Don't listen to that.
-I said, go back...
Open your mouth and start teaching this guy.
I don't need you out here.
Open your mouth and start teaching!
-I don't know how to work this.
-Yeah, that's the problem.
You're going to have to make... What would it look like working?
What would it look like to have some intention about getting past these arms?
-Stand up to this guy.
-Let him just go back in the house with his mother.
Take some steps back.
-Just take some steps back.
-Don't step back!
Don't step back!
-Step back some more.
-Don't step back!
That's it, that's it!
I got your back!
Keep it coming, I got your back.
-Tell him, Chris!
-Go back in the house.
Hey, Chris, you go for it!
Stay focused with this.
-Keep your eyes on this!
Keep pushing, Chris!
Stand up. Stand up.
-Tell him, right now.
One voice, one voice!
I'm good enough.
You better fucking believe you're good enough.
-I'm good enough!
-That's right, man.
-I am good enough.
Yes, goddamn right!
I believe you now.
What about later?
It's not up to you.
That's right. That's right, man.
-OK. Ha-ha! I got it, my brother.
-Stand on your own, Chris.
I've been waiting on you. Oh, I've been waiting on you.
Glad to see you.
You did good, thank you.
I mean that.
I'm checking out.
I used to have a '67 Shovelhead that would get to 147mph
before it would try to bump me off.
Every time I'd push it right up to that motherfucking edge,
and it starts shaking and rattling,
and I'd bring it back down.
I'd throw the kickstand down and say, "WHOO!"
That's how I felt today.
I love God.
I love life.
And I love adrenaline edges.
And in this place, it's hard to get to that fucking edge for me...
..without it being a bad thing.
So, when days like today's happens...
..and I get pulled as far apart as I can be pulled...
I'm alive and I'm fucking grateful.
I feel good, man. I feel blessed.
Know what I'm saying? I felt I got some more strength, man.
Hell, no. That's it, I'm out. Thank you.
Spirit name is Blackbird, sometimes with White Owl.
I walked in that store, you know,
not really grasped the entirety of it.
It hurts. It feels good.
I'm ready for another round.
I'm out with that.
Hi, I'm Chris, checking out with a sense of satisfaction...
..that's new to me.
I'm not normally comfortable with new things,
but this one seems to be a good fit.
And I think I've said all I need to say.
I'm checking out.
You know, I've often wondered why I was put here on the planet and,
for me, it's become real clear it's about the fatherless sons.
I was a fatherless son.
My father was a fatherless son.
My grandfather was a fatherless son.
And my son, for a long time in his life, was a fatherless son.
I don't have a right to tell another man what to do with his life.
But I can tell another man what the consequences may be
for one fatherless son.
And so, right now, I have some sadness and some joy.
I'm sad because of the fatherless sons.
And I have some joy because things like this happen and circles
like this, in other places, happen.
So, then, if one father...
..can go through what he needs to go through to be there for his son,
then all of this shit is worth it.
All of it.
I've seen what this work can do.
I've seen it. I've felt it, I've experienced it.
It's The Work, y'all.
It's The Work.
Set inside one room in Folsom Prison in California, this film follows three men from outside as they take part in a four-day group therapy retreat with convicts serving long sentences for violent or gang-related crimes including murder, assault and robbery.
Over four days, each man takes his turn at delving into his past. This experience exceeds their expectations, ripping them out of their comfort zones and forcing them to see themselves and the prisoners in unexpected ways. This film reveals a radical process of redemption and rehabilitation.