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Iowa prison hospice film nominated for Oscar

This news story was published on January 18, 2014.
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NIT – An illinois filmaker has been nominated for an academy award for a documentary on a terminally-ill hospice patient in an Iowa maximum security prison.

Edgar Barens has been nominated for the Documentary Short Subject Oscar for his film Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall. The film tells the story of the final months in the life of a terminally ill prisoner, Jack Hall and the hospice volunteers at Fort Madison, they themselves prisoners, who care for him. Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall draws from footage shot over a six-­‐month period behind the walls of the Iowa State Penitentiary and provides a fascinating and often poignant account of how the hospice experience can profoundly touch even the forsaken lives of the incarcerated.

Jack Hall (

Jack Hall

According to a press kit on the film: Prisoner Jack Hall was one of the long term patients Barens got to know. And while Jack suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and had been in the infirmary for nearly 12 years, he was far from deaths door and very spry for an 82 year old, WWII vet. Six months later however, Jack would succumb to his disease and would become the next prisoner to enter the into hospice program. With Jack’s blessing, Barens was granted permission to document his slow decline, including the final moment of his passing surrounded by his family and friends. Barens remains in contact with Jack’s surviving family members as well as with most of the prisoners, medical, security and administrative staff at the Iowa State Penitentiary. Such long term projects not only provide the opportunity to document true reality, it also offers the ultimate benefit of building true friendships with people whose lives intersect with that of the documentary filmmaker.

This is the first Academy Award nomination for Edgar Barens.

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