Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo
Directed by Bradley Beesley
Bradley Beesley's SWEETHEARTS OF THE PRISON RODEO goes behind prison walls to follow convict cowgirls on their journey to the 2007 Oklahoma State Penitentiary Rodeo. In 2006, female inmates were allowed to participate for the first time. In a state with the highest female incarceration rate in the country, these women share common experiences such as broken homes, drug abuse and alienation from their children. Since 1940, the Oklahoma State Penitentiary has held an annual 'Prison Rodeo'. Part Wild West show and part coliseum-esque spectacle, it's one of the last of its kind - a relic of the American penal system. Prisoners compete on wild-broncs and bucking bulls, risking life-long injuries. For inmates like Danny Liles, a 14-year veteran of the rodeo, the chance to battle livestock offers a brief respite from prison life. Within this strange arena the prisoners become the heroes while the public and guards applaud.
SWEETHEARTS OF THE PRISON RODEO goes behind prison walls to follow convict cowgirls on their journey to the 2007 Oklahoma State Penitentiary Rodeo. These women share common experiences such as broken homes, drugs and alienation from their children.
Cast: Danny Liles, Jamie Brooks, Brandy Witte
A really great film that focuses on a few select people seeking "normalcy" and hope within the prison system. The film does not portray any of the folks and guilty or innocent, but rather subtly shines a light on the complexities of the prison system--especially the treatment of women. Giving a platform to this particular event within the prison system also gives viewers a tiny understanding of the importance of treating inmates like humans with feelings, remorse, and motivation as a way to possibly redeem themselves--on either side of the prison fence. Even as someone who objects to the treatment of animals in rodeos, I was able to feel invested in the story this filmmaker put forth and look beyond my personal biases to listen to their stories and the positive aspects of rodeo life for these inmates.
Enjoyed it. Kinda sad this is the highlight of their year.