Filmmaker Levon Hinton latest documentary focuses on the long-standing truth about America’s failed War on Drugs and the ensuing epidemic of mass incarceration called Victims of Misfortune: Changing the Pecking Order. The unique focus of this film centers on the obstacles to re-entry inmates face in life after prison.
He’s written, produced, directed and contributed content to several dozen short films, original web series, television shows, music videos and documentaries. This may be his most courageous project yet, and its one you can get involved in right now through his crowdsource fundraising campaign.
All crowdsource campaigns need that initial burst of support to rise and thrive. A number of small donations from Criminal U readers would help ensure this important project gets made.
We had the privilege of asking Hinton more about his project.
CriminalU: How did you come to focus on this story at this time? What’s your interest in criminal justice reform?
Levon Hinton: I’ve always studied America’s public policies. I started listening to the dialogue being projected in regards to the prison system and I noticed that there was a lot of misinformation being regurgitated. Nobody was talking solutions for the people who are victims of America’s public policies. I’ve read a lot of books by scholars and seen plenty of documentaries by various filmmakers but what I didn’t see/read was any solutions for those people affected by America’s failed policies. My interest is in helping people who were systematically lowered to a second class citizenship by providing solutions.
CU: Your campaign photo shows you in full dress marine uniform. Tell us about your military career?
LH: After I graduated high school I went to college for a semester and I realized that I needed money to go to college. Since my oldest sister was already in school, money was tight, So I dropped out of college and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps to help pay my tuition. I graduated as a Squad Leader from boot-camp in Parris Island SC. I was one of the top soldiers in my platoon.
CU: Your documentary talks about the war on American citizens through incarceration and drugs. Did this similarity from your own experience shape your interest and approach to this documentary? If so, explain a bit.
We discuss racism, incarceration and drugs. So my experiences growing up in the South dealing with some of these current issues shaped my interest. We took a very bold approach when working on the concept of this documentary. We wanted to provide an educational documentary without favoritism to any political party and show this system in its proper historical context.
CU: Spike Lee recently used a crowdsource campaign to fund his film, so maybe you can meet your goals the same way. Despite the recent attention to reform after decades of mass incarceration and public indifference, it is still a very tough sale to get people interested. What do you say to people when they ask why should they give?
LH: Crowdsourcing is a good avenue for filmmakers like myself if we’re able to reach our goal. When people ask me why should they give there are many reasons that come to mind but I’ll keep it short. This issue is affecting all of America, with at least 60+ million people with a felony record unable to gain employment, denied housing and education. Yet we want these people to pay for their crimes. Then post conviction make it so that they’re unable provide for or defend their families. It is inhumane and makes absolutely no sense. Every year billions of tax dollars go to the prison industrial complex and corporations are raking in hundreds of millions of dollars off of cheap labor. Law abiding Americans are losing their jobs and the same corporations that’s using prison labor led the nation in lay offs. So your money is being spent to create these problems why not have your money go to creating solutions.
CU: Anything else critically important that I didn’t ask you about?
I want people to keep in mind this is not a documentary about people not paying if they commit crimes but rather how we treat them once they’ve paid for their crimes. I would like everyone to contribute to this documentary and help us make this film. We’re invested a lot of money, time and resources and now we need the public’s help if America is to ever move forward.
Make a difference today by clicking here and making a donation in support of this film. Still not convinced?
Watch this powerful trailer:
Convinced now? Click here! Thanks.