Documentary Screening Spotlights Children with Incarcerated Parents

Last Friday, filmmakers of the documentary Tre Maison Dasan shared their work with our trainees at The Peter Jay Sharp Center for Opportunity in Bushwick, Brooklyn.  The film—an intimate portrait of three young boys, each with a parent in prison—unearthed many emotions from the viewers, many of whom have faced challenges of their own surrounding fatherhood and incarceration.

It was a painful reminder of all the hardships of being a parent in prison, and brought to light the realities of their loved ones on the other side. Through the perspectives of three children — Tre, Maison, and Dasan — the film explores relationships, separation, masculinity, and coming of age in America when a parent is behind bars.

“Tre, Maison, and Dasan have driven me to recognize the rippling effects that mass-incarceration has on our communities,” says Director Denali Tiller. “Enmeshed in this vast system are children struggling to identify themselves in a society that demonizes their parents, provides little support for their families and assumes ‘the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.’”

In the Q&A session that followed with Tiller and Executive Producer Andrew Freiband, RWA members in the audience shared their thoughts, reflecting on all the ways they deeply identified with the film, and how it opened their eyes to the children’s point of view.

The conversation later turned to the challenges that fathers face, even after they are released from prison. Especially for those parents who were incarcerated during formative years of a child’s life, the damage is difficult to repair—trust has to be reestablished, connections must be reinforced, and effort is required on both sides to rebuild the relationship, step by step.

We’re grateful for the filmmakers of Tre Maison Dasan for sharing this important documentary with our community, and for the conversations held afterward that brought us all closer together.

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About Author: Shannon Moriarty