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Business Wire 18-Sep-2023 12:18 PM
Available for streaming and On Demand for the first time, original live performance footage and revealing conversations shot on location serve to open a window into the often unseen and unheard hopes and aspirations of the incarcerated
Xfinity is excited to announce the exclusive platform premiere of the documentary film John Leguizamo Live at Rikers from award-winning actor, writer, producer, filmmaker, and activist John Leguizamo, and director Elena Engel of Azimuth Films. The documentary arrives Friday, September 15 on the Black Experience on Xfinity Channel, available on Xfinity X1, Flex, and on-the-go with the Xfinity Stream and Xumo apps, after a one-week Academy Award-qualifying theatrical run.
This press release features multimedia. View the full release here: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20230914381238/en/
John Leguizamo Live at Rikers (Graphic: Business Wire)
In John Leguizamo Live at Rikers Leguizamo performs his hit one-man Broadway show Ghetto Klown at Rikers Island Correctional Facility for an audience of over 400 inmates. Following the performance, Leguizamo leads intimate group discussions with young men who are enrolled in Getting Out and Staying Out (GOSO), an anti-recidivism program that provides 800 justice-involved young men with the services and resources they need to further their education, secure meaningful employment, and achieve emotional well-being. Participants in the program have sustained recidivism rates at or below 15%, an incredible achievement considering the annual rates of 64% among young men of a similar age group nationwide.
This moving short documentary interweaves performance excerpts with commentary from the inmates, as they identify with the narrative truths of Leguizamo's storytelling. Prison life, family, education, profiling, mentorship and future dreams bring attention to the serious challenges and the often- ignored humanity of those incarcerated, while raising awareness about programs that exist to reduce the revolving door of recidivism.
"When I first started acting, I didn't just want to be an entertainer, I wanted to be an artist. To me, that meant being a mouthpiece for the voiceless, and standing up for those that society overlooks," explained Leguizamo, (in a statement made before the current SAG AFTRA and WGA strikes). "After my performance at Rikers, I realized that there are few individuals more invisible than those who have been through America's criminal justice system. After performing and talking with these men, it's clear how much work still needs to be done to help lift them up."
Along with original live concert footage and revealing conversations shot on location at the Rikers Complex, Leguizamo's emotionally raw, yet humorous, personal stories serve to open a window into the often unseen and unheard struggles of those incarcerated. These personal truths, voiced by the participants, inspire others to consider the emotional and social issues of incarceration.
"We were given a rare opportunity by the New York Department of Corrections to film at the Rikers main auditorium for an audience of 450 inmates and to interact with GOSO enrolled prisoners during group discussions. During filming, Leguizamo's obvious deep empathy for these men opened a floodgate of truthful sharing as well as laughter in a place where laughter is not often heard," said director/producer Engel. "I hope that the personal truths voiced by the participants in our film will encourage others to look further into the emotional and social issues of incarceration and to appreciate when justice involved people have an opportunity to communicate what matters most to them. There is enormous richness to be found in their renewed self-esteem and a desire for a better future.
As an accessible and positive role model, Leguizamo demonstrates that it is possible to reinvent oneself and regain lost dignity while encouraging his audience to "not hide behind the truth." It's in these emotional moments that these young men, who are often demonized even after fulfilling their debt to society dare to dream about a better future in which they too become the heroes of their own stories.
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