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A Place to Stand is the life story of Jimmy Santiago Baca, an award-winning poet who learned how to read and write while in prison.
A Place to Stand is the life story of Jimmy Santiago Baca, an award-winning poet who learned how to read and write while in prison.
81 backers pledged $7,493 to help bring this project to life.

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Note: All donations for the project, routed through Cedar Tree Inc, an educational non-profit, are tax-deductible.

A Place to Stand is a film about Jimmy Santiago Baca, an award-winning poet and novelist who began his career while incarcerated in Arizona’s maximum security Florence State Prison. Through Jimmy’s story of how writing, very literally, saved his life, the film will explore the viability of education and the arts to reduce violence in prisons, foster community, cut down on recidivism, heal trauma and increase self-worth. In examining Jimmy’s growth from illiterate convict to award-winning poet, the film will demonstrate that there is always hope to change one’s life, even in the midst of hell.

We are already deep into production, having interviewed notable friends and contemporaries of Jimmy's such as Helen Mirren, Taylor Hackford, Luis Valdez, Ishmael Reed and Jesse Borrego, as well as former inmates of Florence Prison. To view raw clips from some of these interviews, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NDSXdh80hjo 

Additionally, we have completed several hours of interviews with Jimmy. Our plan is to complete a rough cut by the end of July 2011 and then complete the entire film by the end of the year. 

HOW WILL WE USE YOUR SUPPORT?

Your support will help us travel to New York, Minnesota, Texas, Utah, California, Florida and North Carolina to complete all of our interviews, enabling us to finish the rough cut. Any additional funds we raise beyond our goal will go towards the final edit: color correction, sound design, archive footage, composing an original score and hiring a Director of Photography for re-enactments. 

If you have questions, or can help us in other ways (donating travel, equipment, etc), please email us at aplacetostand.documentary@gmail.com

THE FILM - FULL SYNOPSIS

The film travels with Jimmy as he unfolds his extraordinary transformation from functionally illiterate convict to world poet. From early days living with his indigenous grandparents (his parents were murdered) in Estancia, New Mexico, the film follows Jimmy’s path through childhood abandonment, living on the streets, adolescent years of dealing drugs, culminating in a six year sentence at Florence maximum security prison in Arizona. In the midst of this hell, he found a thirst for education and taught himself how to read and write. This was to be his life salvation and his grounding as mentor and father.

Through extensive interviews with Jimmy, his friends, family, and world-renowned poets and artists, we explore how his passion for language fostered the deep, abiding change that sustained him through prison and beyond. Thirty years free, Jimmy opens his life to the audience, visiting his childhood home, the orphanage he escaped, even some fellow inmates of Florence Prison. Interwoven with the story are Jimmy’s poignant and powerful poems, his prison letters with  poetic heavyweights, and Stanford archive footage of early interviews and writing workshops, all illustrating his growth within the chamber of one of the oldest artistic crafts.

A Place to Stand is inspired by Jimmy’s memoir of the same name, which has been called “elegant and gripping” (the LA Times) and “an astonishing narrative that affirms the triumph of the human spirit” (the Arizona Daily Star). It explores the life and mind of a man whose childhood and early life was dominated by sadness, rejection, anger and pain; a man who embraced language as a balm for his battered spirit; a man who, through the power of poetry, finally found his place to stand. 

STILLS

Jimmy, revisiting his childhood home in Estancia, NM

Renowned artist James Drake reading Jimmy's poem "Prayer Candle"

Jimmy's neighbor in the Dungeon of Florence Prison, Bonafide, who handed Jimmy his first dictionary. 

PRAISE FOR JIMMY'S WRITING:

"Imagine an eagle / In a cage / Set loose / Soaring on the thermals / Swooping on the currents / Free, alive, magnificent - This is how Baca writes." - Richard Stratton

"Raw and ambitious, [Baca's work is] notable for addressing important issues...and depicting marginalized communities and individuals who struggle to retain meaning and purpose in a harsh, unjust world.: - San Francisco Chronicle

"Baca writes with unconcealed passion...but he is far from being a naive realist; what makes his writing so exciting is the way it manifests both an intense lyricism and that transformative vision which perceives the mythic and archetypal significance of life-events." - Denise Levertov

"The velocity of [Baca's] transformation through literature is breathtaking." - Los Angeles Times

"An insistent theme of redemption blends with an unexpected lyrical tenderness, confirming that even in the harsh landscape of his stories, Mr. Baca sees a horizon of hope." - Dallas Morning News

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    An on-screen thank you.

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    A digital download of the film, upon completion, and an on-screen thank you.

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    A signed copy of the film on DVD, upon completion, plus all other rewards below $50.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    A signed, first edition hard-cover of Jimmy's book, The Importance of a Piece of Paper, plus all other rewards below $100.

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    A signed copy of the film Blood In, Blood Out (written by Jimmy), plus all other rewards below $250.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    An autographed book set of five of Jimmy's works (your choice), plus all other rewards below $500.

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    Two tickets to any premiere or screening of the film, an "Associate Producer" on-screen credit, plus all other rewards below $1,000.

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    Pledge $2,500 or more About $2,500

    An autographed collector's edition of Jimmy's first self-published chapbook of poetry, written while in prison. This is not available anywhere except through this reward. Plus, all other rewards below $2,500.

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    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    A 30-minute Skype session with Jimmy. You can chat, have your work critiqued, etc. Plus, all other rewards below $5,000.

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    Pledge $10,000 About $10,000

    A Producer credit, lunch with Jimmy and two VIP passes to all premieres of the film. plus all other rewards below $10,000.

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Funding period

- (62 days)