The Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art hosted writer and director Robby Henson Thursday for a screening of his film, "I Came From."
The film focuses on poetry and fiction writing behind bars and tells the story of six writers serving long sentences for serious crimes in different prisons across Kentucky.
Though the film focuses on six different inmates, the real star of the documentary is Andrew Philips, an aspiring playwright serving 30 years for a murder he committed when he was 15 years old.
Aided and inspired by volunteer programs like Poets and Arts Behind Bars and Voices Inside, Philips writes short plays about his dark past. One such short, "The Promised Land," was awarded a full production in New York City through the Freedom Theater Festival.
Even after such an important success, the film reminds the viewers, with the final shot of prison bars, that despite his achievement, Philip still has more than 20 years of his sentence to serve.
“One friend of mine who saw the film told me it’s so hopeful and so depressing at the same time,” Henson said.
Henson has a long history with filmography dating back to his time spent making documentaries while studying at New York University's Tisch School of Arts to his work on feature films in Hollywood. Even with all of this experience, filming in prison presents its own challenges.
Access to prisoners was monitored by the prison administrators while Henson was working on the film. If management hadn't changed, Henson wouldn't have gained approval.
He was doing most of the production leg work because he couldn’t get an entire production crew cleared for prison entry.
“I even set up dolly shots,” Henson said. “I hiked all the camera equipment and PVC pipes in and out of the prison.”
Henson keeps in touch with the artists in the film and said the ones who have been released have appreciated the chance to have their voices heard.
He teaches at the