The "If" Project

A Seattle cop runs into an idea initiated by a woman in a maximum-security prison. The woman wondered how her life and the lives of her fellow inmates could have been different "If" (only). The project which resulted asks the prisoners to write essays about "If" and share their stories.

Director Kathlyn Horan has filmed this documentary in western Washington state, taping interviews, filming classes, and recording many of the inmates essays which are the result. This is an entry for the 2016 Seattle International Film Festival.

We see:
  • Kim Bogucki, the Seattle police detective. When she started the project, she was a cop but instantly recognized the potential in allowing the inmates to express their views, share their stories, and encourage them to support one another.
  • Renata Abramson was the original spark plug. She grew up hating cops and blamed them for the ruin her life had become. Over the years, she and Officer Bogucki became close friends and we are with her when she is released (with an ankle bracelet).
  • Tiffany Doll is emphatic about the positive changes in her life. She is funny, attractive, and excited to be getting a reduced sentence. She insists she is (mostly) innocent and thought she had been fooling her son about her drug dealing. He knew all along.
  • Angela Vargas has served most of her sentence, and over the extended period of time this was being filmed, finally gained her freedom.
  • LaKeisha "KeWee" Hamilton is the oldest child in a large family. Both parents are in prison so she was responsible for her younger siblings. She is the first to graduate from high school in four generations. She mostly feels guilt for letting down her siblings. 
We see and hear many other stories and only wonder how some of those women even stayed alive, to say nothing of became a felon. These gals are articulate, mature (they own their personal behavior), and miss their families, particularly their children. Their essays show great insight.

We see the ups and downs for these women over time and, like Officer Bogucki, have to accept a few setbacks. This is an ongoing project and is no longer limited to women only. It is being used in other prisons and in schools.