Synopsis: Every weekday, dozens of inmates are released on parole from Huntsville State Penitentiary, the largest prison release center in Texas. With a bus ticket voucher and $100 release check, most of them take in their first moments out with phone calls, cigarettes, and quiet reflection at the Greyhound station up the block. In this pivotal moment, between incarceration and freedom, a myriad of complicated emotions arise before the bus arrives to take them home.
With Huntsville Station, our goal was to create an experience that reflected a different side of the criminal justice system. We did not conduct interviews, hoping to craft an immersive sense of this moment of being released for parolees, observing their conversations and even just capturing the simple act of waiting in this pivotal time between prison and freedom. For those within prison, it is near-impossible to outwardly express emotion in front of other inmates for fear of appearing weak. So, we sought to humanize those on-screen by just having the camera be present with them for their first release of emotion before reconnecting with the outside world.
Jamie Meltzer is a documentary filmmaker and the Program Director of the M.F.A. Program in Documentary Film at Stanford University. His most recent documentary feature, TRUE CONVICTION (Independent Lens, 2018), a co-production of ITVS and the recipient of a Sundance Institute grant and a MacArthur grant, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival where it won a Special Jury Mention. INFORMANT (2012), about a revolutionary activist turned FBI informant, was released in theaters in the US and Canada in Fall 2013 by Music Box Films and KinoSmith. Previous films include: OFF THE CHARTS: THE SONG-POEM STORY (Independent Lens, 2003), about the shadowy world of song-poems; WELCOME TO NOLLYWOOD (PBS Broadcast, 2007), an investigation into the wildly successful Nigerian movie industry; and LA CAMINATA (2009), a short film about a small town in Mexico that runs a simulated border crossing as a tourist attraction.
Chris Filippone is a documentary filmmaker whose works explore physical labor, marginalized perspectives, and liminal spaces through aesthetically immersive approaches. His films have screened in the Berlinale, Visions du Réel, SXSW, CPH:DOX, Sheffield Doc/Fest and Ann Arbor Film Festival. His film SCRAP won the Spirit Award for Short Documentary at the Brooklyn Film Festival in 2017 and A VIEW FROM THE WINDOW was nominated for a 2018 Best of the Year Award on Vimeo. He has received support from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, MiND TV and the Bread and Roses Fund as well as fellowships from the Telluride Student Symposium and UFVA. He is a graduate of Stanford University’s M.F.A. Documentary Film Program.