Documentary film shows ex-cons re-entering society in Phila.

January 29, 2013 3:33:57 PM PST
The U.S. Attorney's Office teamed up with an ex-con who had an idea to help recently released prisoners stay out of jail.

That idea was a documentary that is premiering Tuesday night at the National Constitution Center.

The documentary is called "Pull of Gravity." The U.S. Department of Justice is backing it through a grant. Their partner is ex-con-turned-director El Sawyer.

"I was convicted of aggravated assault and sentenced to 8-20 years," he told Action News.

So who better to direct a film about re-integrating released inmates back into Philadelphia society?

With co -director Jon Kaufman, Sawyer followed three men over the course of a year who were making the transition from prison back to society.

"They need to see people coming home. It's not a scary endeavor," said Robert Reed of the U.S. Attorney's office. "Most people in my office don't appreciate how truly difficult prison is."

Reed and U.S. Attorney Zane Memeger call the documentary an eye-opener for both their office and for the public.

"People can start thinking about these issues and start working towards a common solution that will help reduce crime," said Memeger, "because we're not going to be able to arrest our way out of the problem."

The film shows successes and failures. Sawyer, now out ten years, hopes his success can serve as a role model for others, something he never had.

"It's not easy, it's hard," he says. "But there are joyful moments, and it's possible."