This is a very provocative film about the personal experience of participants in our Amity prison program, that are serving life sentences. It takes the viewer into the personal process of change that Amity, in all our programs, is trying to facilitate.
“Lifers” was made by award winning director and producer, Kaori Sakagami and her crew, who made two previous videos, “Coming out of Darkness,” and “Miller on Monsters.”
The film shows footage taken at the R.J. Donovan Correctional Facility, The California State Prison- Los Angeles County ( Lancaster), and at Amistad de Los Angeles—it also shows some footage in Compton, California. Individuals featured in the film are Reyes Orozco, Kelvin Goshen, Naya Arbiter, Charles Goshen, and Jimmy .
This film was accepted by the New York International Film and Video Festival and had it’s U.S. Premiere in July 2004 . In attendance with Kaori was Charles, his wife, Kelvin, his daughter, Jimmy Keeler, Roger and Rita Craig (Roger did the sound track); Carol Zaragoza, and Charles & Kelvin’s Aunt.
We are pleased to announce that it took home the Best Documentary award in the International Category.
Amity foundation has already begun to use this film in it’s own curriculum and believes it will offer great inspiration for its students, many who have or are still living in prison , and in-site to those who hope to change before this becomes a part of their reality. The possibility of change can exist when we speak honestly about ourselves and Amity was proud to help Kaori in bringing this important story to life.
“This is a tremendous piece of work and we all owe Kaori a big 'thank you' for the incredible work she did to make this idea a reality. I really wanted to tell the story of the lifers---of the work that they have done over all these years. I hope that this film is widely seen and will make some difference in people’s perceptions.”
- Rod Mullen CEO Amity Foundation
Rod Mullen and Naya Arbiter will be going to Japan for two weeks in September to say “thank you” to the many individuals, corporate, and university sponsors who paid for the film. ”Lifers” will be shown again at the New York Film Festival in Los Angeles Sunday October 3, 2004 at 2:10 pm
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(New York Film and Video Festival)
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October 4, 2007
We need to send a message to the world. Let it be known that the people in our penal institutions are not invisible; they are not to be thrown away. There is redemption that can be had in the lives of every human being. We stand here in solidarity today with Amity Foundation to say that we believe in the power of redemption.”
- Rev. Jeff Carr
Amity’s Amistad de Los Angeles began six years ago with a vision; a vision to create a place of sanctuary for individuals coming out of prison, a home providing a place to re-group and find a new direction. Amity came to Los Angeles with the intent of building strong partnerships, and over the past six years has reached out to the community and the community has reached back in a very significant way. On October 4, 2007, members from Amity Therapeutic Communities throughout California, Arizona, and New Mexico gathered together to acknowledge the friends, partners, donors, resource providers, faith communities, law enforcement agencies, and others who have raised their hands to make this vision a reality. Amity’s Annual Acknowledgment Ceremony celebrates the community partnerships that have been so important, particularly to the residents of Amistad de Los Angeles. Rod Mullen, President and CEO of Amity Foundation presented Certificates of Appreciation to Amistad’s many partners, acknowledging each persons commitment to mending hearts, families, and communities.
A pioneer in the field, and role model for many, Lena Lindsay was honored as she celebrated 50 years of dedicated work helping others to embrace their stories and live a life of dignity and purpose. Through her day by day demonstration, Lena, who arrived at Synanon in 1959, delivered a powerful message of hope and the importance of community in restoring lives.
Representing the thousands of individuals whose lives have been restored through Amity Foundation’s thirty-eight years of providing services, graduates from Amity’s Therapeutic Communities gave voice to each Generation of Hope. Individuals with histories of incarceration, abuse, violence, addiction, and hopelessness expressed their gratitude for the lives they enjoy today and for the opportunity to positively impact the lives of others. The Amistad de Los Angeles Ceremony concluded with the award winning gospel group CHOSEN. The all female group inspired those in attendance with both story and music.
Rev. Jeff Carr, recently named by Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa and Police Chief William Bratton to be Los Angeles’ first “Gang Czar”, was an honored guest and keynote speaker. As the Gang Reduction and Youth Development Director, Rev. Carr delivered a passionate message of hope and transformation, commending Amity Foundation for six years of re-entry services to the city of Los Angeles.
Other special guests included Keith Johnson, CDCR, Parole and Community Services Division. He spoke of the partnership between Amity Foundation and the PACT program; a collaborative effort between law enforcement, parolees, and resource providers in the community. In his remarks he stated, “Amity’s been there for us with open arms, providing officers an opportunity to see parolees in different light, and sending the message that there are people out there that are willing to help you.”
Also recognized was Sgt. Evelyn Anderson of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Community Transition Unit. In addition to the appreciation expressed by Amity Foundation, Sgt. Anderson received a Commendation from Los Angeles County Sherriff Leroy Baca for her tireless effort and dedication to helping people change their lives. A sworn officer, Sgt. Anderson embraces the idea that people deserve second changes. Her passion and enthusiasm exemplifies the core values necessary to facilitate re-entry and reduce recidivism. Sgt. Anderson praised Amity’s efforts and spirit of collaboration in coordinating efforts for the benefit of those re-entering the community.
Dr. Lewis Yablonski, a UCLA sociologist who conducted groundbreaking research on Therapeutic Communities in the 1960’s and authored the book The Tunnel Back, was an honored guest and speaker at Amity’s acknowledgement ceremony. His work illustrates how by working together to provide the necessary community support along with evidenced based treatment services, a significant proportion of people do change, becoming the vaccine for many of the social problems they once represented.
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