Thursday Sto­ryville: The Work – Four Days To Re­demp­tion 11pm, BBC Four

Sunday Herald Life - - TRAVEL FEATURE -

I NTIMATE, of­ten un­com­fort­able and gen­er­ally fas­ci­nat­ing, this doc­u­men­tary makes the viewer a fly on the wall at Cal­i­for­nia’s Fol­som prison, to watch as a re­mark­ably in­tense ex­er­cise in group ther­apy un­folds. Co-di­rec­tors Jairus McLeary and Gethin Al­dous record the work of an ex­per­i­men­tal pro­gramme that’s been run­ning at the state fa­cil­ity for sev­eral years. Twice a year, vol­un­teers from the pub­lic are in­vited in­side to par­tic­i­pate in four-day ses­sions with in­mates, to plunge into their pasts and con­front their deep­est fears and feel­ings to­gether. We ob­serve as a group of first­time cit­i­zens – a bar­tender, a young mu­seum worker and a slightly up­tight teach­ing as­sis­tant – sit down with in­mates in­clud­ing for­mer mem­bers of the Aryan Brother­hood and the Crips and Bloods gangs, whose crimes run to mur­der. As the ses­sions progress, they pass through ther­apy cliché ter­ri­tory, all touchy-feely, cry­ing and chant­ing. But things get in­creas­ingly raw, drain­ing and cathar­tic, as all the men come to re­gard each other, and them­selves, in a dif­fer­ent light.

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