Upon learning that I did not have cancer yesterday, I immediately headed out the door to my favorite theater up the street to see The Mustang. I am so glad that I did. Not only did it make me cry multiple times, I found myself relating to the main character Roman— and it might be surprising why.

[Not too major of a SPOILER AHEAD]:

Roman struggles with rage and that is what lands him in prison in the first place. Rage is something that I know intimately as I also struggle with bipolar disorder. I can go from feeling perfectly fine to shattering my bathroom mirror in seconds flat—but that was way before knowing anything was wrong, medication, and my own rehabilitation.

Roman and some of the other men in the facility are given the chance to rehabilitate by training wild horses. It might not seem like a lot, but it is apparent that having this responsibility means a lot to Roman. That is what this incredibly strong film points out: Not all hope is lost—even on those who society deems “less than”.

The magic of movies is relating to a story we think we won’t— and, boy, this film hit me right between the eyes.

Why we make films in the first place is being able to tell our stories and have others relate. This is also a key aspect of rehabilitation. I think that as a nation, if we really cared about people not reoffending, more rehabilitation programs would be championed. I just think the problem is not enough of us are aware of America’s over-incarceration.

In America, more stories about what life is like inside as well as outside the prison system are desperately needed in order to get more people to pay attention to our problem with over-incarceration. Hopefully, with films like this, more of us will be moved to acknowledge the injustice and use our voices to make changes to our vastly un-just prison system.

This is the power and magic of movies. Not only will challenging ones make us think, but will spur us into action.

[I also highly recommend reading The New Jim Crow by Michele Alexander in order to learn more about why America is such a highly incarcerated nation]

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