With the recent exploding popularity of true crime documentaries and series, audiences have seen people wrongfully convicted for crimes they didn’t commit, killers who have wreaked incredible havoc, and just a variety of various criminals that have been involved in such incredible situations. However, one thing that isn’t really touched on much in these documentaries or series is the effect that a conviction can have on the family of the criminal. HBO’s upcoming Sundance Award-winning doc “The Sentence” changes that.
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“The Sentence” is a film by Rudy Valdez, making his feature-length debut, as he chronicles the impact that his sister’s 15-year sentence has on her family, particularly with her young children. Valdez’s sister Cindy was sentenced after she was found guilty of crimes committed by her boyfriend, who was selling drugs out of their home, even though she had nothing to do with them. It is part of a zero-tolerance policy that is known as “the girlfriend problem.” However, because of her sentence, her family has to deal with losing a family member during the formative years of her children’s life.
As mentioned, “The Sentence” premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, where it took home the Audience Award for US Documentary.
“The Sentence” will debut on HBO on October 15. However, for those lucky enough to live in select cities, the documentary will have a limited, awards-qualifying theatrical release.
Here are the official synopsis and trailer:
Drawing from hundreds of hours of footage, filmmaker Rudy Valdez shows the aftermath of his sister Cindy’s 15-year sentence for conspiracy charges related to crimes committed by her deceased ex-boyfriend—something known, in legal terms, as “the girlfriend problem.” Valdez’s method of coping with this tragedy is to film his sister’s family for her, both the everyday details and the milestones—moments Cindy herself can no longer share in. But in the midst of this nightmare, Valdez finds his voice as both a filmmaker and activist, and he and his family begin to fight for Cindy’s release during the last months of the Obama administration’s clemency initiative. Whether their attempts will allow Cindy to break free of her draconian sentence becomes the aching question at the core of this deeply personal portrait of a family in crisis.