The National Educational Telecommunications Association recently released UToledo Professor of Film Holly Hey’s documentary film “Reentry Realties, Hope Deferred.”
The 30-minute documentary centers on the relationship between Larry Thompson, an Ohio inmate, and his reentry mentor, Joe Hoeflinger of Sylvania. Thompson and Hoeflinger met over a decade ago after Thompson returned to prison to serve out his fourth prison sentence. Brought together by a Christmas card, the two men describe their journey to develop, teach and publish a reentry curriculum that helps released inmates stay out of prison.
Hey, who directed and edited the documentary, said, “The film reveals how Larry came to be incarcerated for more than half of his adult life, Joe’s commitment to loving the unlovable and the ways in which our judicial system fails to recognize reform beyond time served.”
Senior United States District Judge Jack Zouhary helped Hey get access to Thompson inside Marion Correctional Institution in Marion, Ohio, for an hour-long interview and to capture additional footage of Thompson teaching his Reentry Realities class.
“I have known Larry for nearly nine years, and his rehabilitation efforts while incarcerated are the most impressive I have seen in my 16-year involvement with criminal justice reform,” Zouhary said. “His story is a ‘must see’ for lawyers, judges and anyone interested in learning about the ‘reality of reentry.’ ”
Hey led an internship initiative for six UToledo film/video majors who helped develop and shoot the film in summer 2019. The students’ pre-professional, work-based experience at UToledo has now led to showcasing their work to a national audience.
Ali Moussa, a 2020 UToledo graduate who operated first camera on the documentary, said, “Working on this project was a real eye-opening experience, as a filmmaker, as storyteller and as a person questioning the purpose and goal of incarceration: Is it to punish or to rehabilitate?”
Hey also collaborated with UToledo’s College of Arts and Letters and College of Law to produce the film. The colleges financed the project in the hopes of bringing visibility to Thompson’s story and his request for judicial release. Hey developed a study guide in collaboration with Rob Salem, UToledo clinical professor of law, and Dr. Renée Heberle, UToledo professor of political science and public administration, that helps frame discussions around our judicial system, rehabilitation, relationships across walls and Thompson and Hoeflinger ’s work in reentry. The study guide can be found on the film’s webpage.
The National Educational Telecommunications Association distributes more than 1,200 hours of media programming annually to 277 public television stations in 46 states, the Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia. “Reentry Realties, Hope Deferred.” will air on Public Media of Western New York and Southern Ontario in July and will reach 1.3 million people.
“Although centered in Ohio, this story is relevant and meaningful to audiences anywhere in the United States,” said Kathryn Larsen, vice president of broadcast services for Buffalo/Toronto Public Media.
For more information about the documentary, visit its website, reentryrealities.com.