People wearing blue jumpsuits in a prison common area, with a person seated wearing a hat and colourful jacket in the foreground

Opening Night Presentation – 16 Bars

Human Rights Film Festival

America is infamous for having the highest incarceration rate in the world. 16 Bars presents an alternative solution to the crisis through the universal language of music. Speech, from Grammy award winning hip-hop group Arrested Development, leads a music workshop in a Richmond City jail as part of a program dedicated to lowering recidivism rates. As Speech interacts with four inmates and learns about their pasts, we are confronted with the stark reality of addiction and the structural nature of recidivism. More importantly, 16 Bars is a testament to the power of music as social activism. Music gives these inmates an opportunity to tell their stories and transform their lives. As we follow their journeys in and out of jail, 16 Bars will have you cheering and clapping to the rhythm of their lives.

Q&A with Sam Bathrick (director) and Todd “Speech” Thomas (film subject)

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Content Warning: Mention of drug use and violence.