Synopsis: Larry Williams spent the last 42 years in prison. We follow his first week of freedom.
In 1979, Larry Williams entered prison and was released 42 years later.
FIRST WEEK OUT is a short documentary (21 minutes) that follows Larry’s pivotal first week of freedom. Follow Larry in his first week out as he tries to make sense of his past, navigates life in a re-entry home, reunites with an old prison friend, applies for a job, meets with a new mentor, and forges a path forward.
Research has shown that the first week out of prison for formerly incarcerated men and women will define their future success or failure. After serving their sentences, it is vital for individuals to have an opportunity to become a functioning member of society.
Every week there are more than 10,000 people in America like Larry experiencing their first week out of prison. Within three years, two out of three won’t make it and will end up back in prison. We wanted to tell Larry’s story to encourage viewers to join the thousands of people and organizations across the country helping individuals like Larry beat the odds.
To rebuke a murderer is simple. To recognize our common humanity with that man is a more dangerous and challenging idea.
With this film, I ask two questions. Are the formerly incarcerated able to find new life? How does the world feel after decades of confinement?
Homelessness, joblessness, guilt and grief: all are commonly experienced by returning citizens. These themes coalesced on our first day of production when we met Larry, a man who had very literally just been released from prison: his first week out.
The sound of spring wind, the attention of a stray cat, the unobstructed view of trees, Larry savors these things like a poet.
This film is a study of tension: between a man and his mistakes; between the tragedy of our lives and the poetic wonder of our world. It is also an examination of possibility. Will Larry find the support he desperately needs?
Charlie Fritschner is a documentary filmmaker who grew up in the American south and received his BA in English from the College of William and Mary in 2007. He is the founder and Executive Producer of Thatch Films, a boutique production company based in Chicago, IL. Charlie is interested in stories and subjects on the social periphery that explore humankind’s capacity for survival, innovation, celebration and self reflection. He has directed projects in North and South America, Africa, Europe and Asia and when he is not behind a camera, he loves to spend his time cooking, canoeing and sailing.