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Interview: Tamara Perkins, director and producer of "Life After Life"

 

When it comes to locking up young people, the US leads the industrialized world. And though youth incarceration rates have been declining for the last two decades, adult prisons still contain many inmates who entered the system as juveniles with life sentences. These prisoners have grown up and lived their entire adult lives behind bars.

So what happens to these adults if and when they are released -- and have to re-enter a society they last knew as teenagers? A new documentary film, “Life After Life," explores that question by following three men, incarcerated in their teens, as they leave San Quentin and try to forge new lives on the outside.

Tamara Perkins directed and produced “Life After Life," and she spoke with KALW’s Jen Chien about how she went from teaching yoga and meditation inside San Quentin to making this movie.

 

TAMARA PERKINS: I realized that there were a lot of "program" films -- really just about the group they were in, or something that is inside San Quentin. But what I hadn't seen was something that allows you go on a journey with the men. And I realized that that's probably what we needed to see: we needed to see them come home, we needed to see them stumble -- in some cases fail, and hopefully in some cases, succeed.

A rough cut of "Life After Life" will be screened on Sunday, June 7, 2015 as part of the 14th annual San Francisco DocFest. Tickets and more information here.

Jen Chien was the managing editor for Crosscurrents and KALW News from 2016 to 2018. She has been a contributor to All Things Considered, Radio Netherlands Worldwide, BBC/PRI’s The World, Making Contact, SF Public Press, East Bay Express, New America Media, and KPFA in Berkeley, where she took part in the First Voice Apprenticeship Program. She is the recipient of the 2013 Outstanding Emerging Journalist Award from the Society of Professional Journalists of Northern California. She holds a BA in American Studies from Smith College, and an MA in Interdisciplinary Performance from New College of California. Before entering the field of journalism, she had a successful career as a professional dance and theater artist, teacher, and massage therapist.