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G-LAW

Fight Hate With Love, a documentary film about Philadelphia-based artists and activist Michael Tabon (a.k.a. G-Law a.k.a. OG-Law) has been shortlisted for the Tim Hetherington Trust‘s inaugural Visionary Award.

The film made by Andrew Michael Ellis, director of photography at Mediastorm is about “one man’s journey to change the world and still be the guide his family needs him to be.”

The film looks inspiring, but as with any narrative arc, the protagonist faces challenges. It seems the stresses of Tabon’s art and activism upon his family is the emotive hook, Ellis is molding.

I met Tabon and his wife Gwen this time last year as he was embarking on his third self-imposed lock up in a self-built cell on the cold February streets of Philly. They did not display the tension as they do in Ellis’ trailer. Tabon was putting his un-prison cell together and Gwen was helping with supplies, PR, food & drink, and vocal support. It was clear they rely on one another to make work and to meet the silent, unending need for Tabon’s love-filled message.

Tabon’s manipulation of visual tropes is cunning and effective. He has reclaimed the cell, the orange jumpsuit and the shackles. He has jogged 10 miles a day for seven days around Philadelphia with a 40-foot banner reading FIGHT HATE WITH LOVE. He has walked with a ball-and-chain from Selma to Montgomery.

“Tabon has been caught in the revolving door of the prison system since he was sixteen years old. Incarceration became a way of life, seen as an inherited destiny for America’s young Black poor, until he had a revelation – that he could break the cycle of the womb-to-prison pipeline gripping marginalized communities across the country,” says Mediastorm.

It’s wonderful to see Tabon on the Mediastorm platform and Hetherington Trust’s radar. His unorthodox but unmissable approach to social change needs to go national.

Youtube trailer here. Follow Tabon on Twitter and on the web.

glaw

Always lots of good stuff on MediaStorm and many of the projects from their workshops and training belie the relative “inexperience” of their creators.

Exodus tells the story of Diana Ortiz, 45, who spent over half her life in prison. She says it saved her.

Diana dropped out of high school at 18 to live with a man twice her age. To pay for their drug habit, her boyfriend devised a scheme to lure a man into a secluded Coney Island parking lot and rob him.

In the early hours of August 20, 1983, the robbery veered off-course and two men were shot. One was killed. Though Diana was not at the scene of the shooting, she was sentenced to 17 years to life for her role in the murder.

She served twenty-two and a half years.

While behind bars Diana earned her master’s degree, developed a strong identity and self confidence. She is now an inspiration for other inmates, helping them to rebuild their lives.

This workshop story was inspired by the New York Times story about Diana Ortiz titled Convicted of Murder as Teenager and Paroled at 41. (Which I mentioned here on PP before)

Credits
Photography, audio and video: Laurentiu Diaconu-Colintineanu, Natasha Elkington, Leah Thompson
Producer: Jennifer Redfearn
Executive Producer: Brian Storm
Graphics: Tim Klimowicz
Transcription: Avi Tharoor-Menon

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