In the big screen documentary The Work, level-four inmates at California’s Folsom State Prison are joined by three men from outside the penitentiary for a four-day group therapy retreat. Set entirely in one room, the doc follows the men as they engage in the intensive therapy workshop, exiting their comfort zones and stripping down the barriers and stereotypes between the free men and the incarcerated men.
The Work is director Jairus McLeary’s first documentary. McLeary volunteered at Folsom’s therapy workshop for more than a decade before he gained the trust of the participants to film them, and co-director Gethin Aldous also volunteered at Folsom before teaming with McLeary.
The Work won the Grand Jury Prize for best documentary feature at the SXSW Film Festival and the Audience Award for best documentary at the Sheffield Doc/Feste earlier this year.