To be wrongfully imprisoned is an inconceivable horror. To become free, a miracle. To begin life again after decades behind bars is a struggle which never ends.
CHAINS is a brutally honest portrait of life after wrongful conviction, seen through the eyes of Barry Gibbs, a larger-than-life character who was framed for murder by Mafia Cops in the most notorious case of NYPD corruption.
Equally humorous as it is heartbreaking, Barry's story is one of trauma, redemption, and survival of the human spirit for a man who emerged from prison, and spent a decade searching for closure, only to find that the loss of freedom can never be undone.
Picking up where every other wrongful conviction story leaves off, this raw and unfiltered narrative, shot over the course of a decade, forces the audience to walk in Barry’s shoes because to truly understand this surreal experience is to live it - day after day and over time.
WHY I’M MAKING THIS FILM
In 2008, when I met Barry Gibbs, I knew him as my sister Vanessa’s client, a man she’d helped free from prison, an Innocence Project Exonoree who was showing up at our East Village apartment because he had no where else to turn. Barry had been exonerated in 2005, but years later his world was still shattered by his wrongful incarceration, and while his Kafkaesque tale of movie-star mafia cops, and unjust decades behind bars immediately drew me in, it was the horror of Barry’s life AFTER prison that truly captivated me - a general state of emotional and psychological incarceration despite his newfound “freedom.” Prison had taken everything from Barry, his family, his health, even his sanity - all he had left was his story (and my sister Vanessa). Barry was struggling to put the pieces of his life back together, and it was there in our apartment that I began to film Barry’s journey, not knowing that I was embarking down a road that would span the next ten years.
At this point, I’ve been filming Barry’s story for a decade, I’ve seen him go from rags to riches, winning the largest civil rights settlement in New York, we’ve traveled on two cross country road-trips in his search for closure, I’ve been at his side in hospital beds and hotel rooms across the U.S, seen him reconnect with his son, break-up and make-up with his partner Myrna, bring his best friend home from prison, face his demons, extreme illness, psychotic episodes, and witnessed the most private and vulnerable moments in his life - even his death.
MY INTENTION FOR THE PROJECT
I believe an intimate verite film like this has the power to truly humanize the issue of wrongful conviction, and its aftermath, in a way we have never seen before, and to serve as a serious tool for impact.
I want this film to help turn the dial, and establish fair mandatory compensation laws nationwide, and to provide services for individuals after they are exonerated.
I want people to watch this film, and understand that the trauma of wrongful conviction doesn't stop at the prison gate, and that it’s our responsibility to restore the lives of wrongfully convicted individuals to the best of our ability.
What makes this story stand apart is not only Barry’s journey, but the way this film lives and breathes his extraordinary character with brutal honesty, over a ten year period. At no point does the film spell out the issues surrounding wrongful conviction or its aftermath, instead they are lived and breathed in every moment of this character-driven narrative. In many ways this is a simple human story, a portrait of a broken man, a journey to find peace and happiness, for a truly original character - who happened to be framed by NYPD detectives working as hitmen for the mafia.
Telling this story meant everything to Barry who recently passed away this March 2018. It is a terrible loss not to have such a charismatic and compelling voice to push this message out, but regardless this story must be told.
I NEED YOUR HELP
I am 100% devoted to this documentary. I’ve been filming since 2008, have hundreds of hours of footage following Barry’s life in the years after his exoneration, and am ready to begin editing - the most important and expensive part of making a documentary. In order to begin the edit full-time I need your help.
Whatever you can do to support the edit and finishing of this film would mean so much to me, to Barry’s memory, to the hundreds of thousands of wrongfully convicted individuals currently in prison, and to those who are coming home from that nightmare, and having to face all that comes next. Please help me get this important story out.
PRIMARY COST TO COVER :
- Editor x 1 year
Since 2008 I’ve worked on this film solo - producing, directing and filming mostly on my own. As the project has moved into post, I have rallied support around the film, and brought on a fantastic team of collaborators, including Executive Producers Katie Couric, Tony Goldwyn, and most recently the amazing Sanaa Hamri ! ! !
Risks and challenges
There are many risks involved in making a film, but I've dedicated 10 years to documenting Barry's life in a way that wrongful conviction has never been seen before, and with the current desire and appetite for this type of content, with so much conversation and concern in this country about criminal justice on all fronts, this story must be told, and I will continue working on it for however long it takes to get this out.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (31 days)