Beyond Walls breaks down barriers in its most recent screening event at the Mayday Space in New York City

This summer, Working Films is launching our organizing initiative Beyond Walls. In partnership with the Center for Political Education, Critical Resistance, MPD150 and Survived + Punished, this project helps us reimagine better alternatives to policing and prisons through the power of storytelling.

Beyond Walls features documentary films that help define and amplify what abolition of the prison industrial complex* looks like. As part of our initiative, we are touring these films with organizations that are directly impacted by and leading the change toward prison abolition.

In our most recent event on June 29th, community members and organizers gathered at the Mayday Space, in Bushwick, NY. Mayday Space is known as a hub for movement leaders to work, learn, celebrate and build together. The event was a powerful demonstration of space, story and solidarity coming together. The featured films highlight the social and political realities of incarcerated people and how maintaining connection beyond walls can be a form of resistance against the carceral system.

After the screening, attendees broke into small group discussions and then took part in a letter-writing workshop with Black & Pink’s NYC Chapter. Black & Pink is a nonprofit dedicated to the liberation of LGBTQIA2S+ people and those living with HIV/AIDS who have been affected by the criminal punishment system. In their PenPal program, Black & Pink provides a platform for incarcerated and non-incarcerated people to forge relationships as a means of support building and harm reduction. The workshop was an opportunity for guests to connect with LGBTQIA2S+ individuals who are currently incarcerated.

“Because they had just watched the films, [event] participants were very thoughtful and intentional with their cards,” said Bran, a Black & Pink NYC organizer, in regard to the event’s letter-writing activity.

Overall, attendees were able to further understand the realities of incarcerated individuals and gain a new perspective on what justice can look like.

“[It’s important to] have community members watch community-led movies,” said Ienna Fernandez, the programs manager at the Mayday Space.

The Mayday Space hosts events in collaboration with grassroots organizations and individual activists. This event allowed people from different industries and regions to connect and share new ways of organizing. Tanya Nguyen, an organizer at Black & Pink NYC, emphasized how events like this have the power to “re-energize people and remind them of the human faces behind the work that we do.”

Beyond Walls is part of Working Films’ “Docs in Action” program. Docs in Action provides funding and distribution to short documentaries that explore topics of social and environmental justice.

Working Films takes a collaborative approach when working with host organizations to curate screening events. Our goal is to help them facilitate activities and discussions that best align with the values of their community and their organization. With the films as a catalyst, the screenings allow time to inform, plan and take action toward a better future.

* The Prison Industrial Complex (PIC) is a term to describe the overlapping interests of government and industry that use surveillance, policing and imprisonment as solutions to economic, social and political problems.

Upcoming screenings for Beyond Walls can be found here:

If you are interested in hosting a screening for Beyond Walls, fill out the request form here:

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