The Work: Four Days to Redemption is a documentary film set within a single room in Folsom prison. A room in which convicts gather for group therapy sessions. These are dangerous men, serving time for heinous crimes, violent crimes, these are men who you would avoid if they walked towards you in a darkened street.
Tattooed, gang affiliated and volatile these men come together once a year for therapy, an intensive four day programme that brings in members of the public to act as facilitators and conduits of a more peaceful message.
Day is a cagey, tense affair as people introduce themselves and ask each other why they want to be part of this program, what they hope to achieve and what they want to take away. Barriers comedown quickly and then the conversation allows a number of healings to begin. As time passes these become more intense and happen in perhaps unexpected places and to unexpected people within the group.
The road to redemption takes unexpected turns and in fact the greatest evangelical proponents of healing are the inmates themselves. As the days progress they begin to evangelise to the members of the group from outside the prison walls. They are the ones providing the healing and they are the ones facilitating change in the participants. One particular volunteers journey is particularly intense, and in many ways as he faces his demons and expels them with great anger in a form of exorcism. Brian's story is one of a journey of experience, coming to the project with a slight arrogance, expecting to be a facilitator of healing and not the recipient.
This brought to mind Peter Rollins Evangelism Project a decentering practice designed to help us encounter someone who is alien to us so that we can experience the insight that we are alien to ourselves.
So often, particularly those of us identifying as Christian, can come to all manner of relationships expecting to be the facilitator rather than the recipient. The Work is a documentary that reminds the viewer there should be spaces where politics, race, and affiliations fall to something greater. That spaces should exist where openness and vulnerability are commonplace and that healing and grace are found in two way streets.