This film tells the story of acclaimed author Jimmy Santiago Baca's transformation from a functionally illiterate convict to an award-winning poet, novelist and screenwriter.
Based on the memoir of the same name, the film takes viewers into Baca's past and present to uncover how the power of the written word lifted him from the violence and pain that defined his early life. With powerful revelations from family, friends, and fellow inmates, as well as insight into the early writings that first captured Baca's imagination, the film shows how he turned his life around.
A Place to Stand follows Baca's path from childhood abandonment in Estancia, New Mexico, through adolescent drug dealing and a subsequent 5-year narcotics sentence at Arizona State Prison, one of the most violent prisons in the country.
Baca began his incarceration an angry and illiterate young man. Against the odds, he taught himself how to read and write, discovering a passion for poetry that gave him a means of understanding and expressing himself, and that ultimately saved his life. Writing poetry helped him to survive the brutal inhumanity of his incarceration, and eventually to heal the wounds of his childhood and open himself to a whole new future.
In the film, Baca reads some of his poetry while shots of the prison and the surrounding Arizona landscape pan across the screen. Baca's poems provide a unique window to his mindset at the time as he channeled his frustrations and hopes to paper.
Baca's extraordinary life is both inspiring and haunting, simultaneously an indictment of our current criminal justice system and a model of the potential for human transformation.
"A Place to Stand presents Jimmy's compelling story in the the best way: By letting this great poet tell his own tale - and no one can tell a tale like Jimmy Santiago Baca." Taylor Hackford, Academy Award-winning Director/Producer
"A Place to Stand is an invitation to students to take what is often the worst in their lives and transform it through their courage, love, and work into a triumph as learners and wholly valuable human beings." Professor Rex Veeder, Dept of English, St. Cloud University
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