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Public Film Screening - Calls from Home

Join us for a public film screening and discussion of CALLS FROM HOME, a 2023 short film directed by Sylvia Ryerson, a Yale PhD student in American Studies. This event is co-sponsored by the Department of Geography and the UK Appalachian Studies Program

A longstanding radio program sends familial messages of love to people incarcerated in Central Appalachia. Directed by Sylvia Ryerson, a former DJ for the show, CALLS FROM HOME follows the weekly broadcast through prison walls, portraying the many forms of distance that rural prison building creates—and the ceaseless work to end the racist system of mass incarceration and family separation.

Picture of Sylvia RyersonSylvia Ryerson (she/her) is a filmmaker, radio producer, organizer, and PhD student in American Studies at Yale University. Prior to graduate school, she worked at the documentary arts center Appalshop, in Whitesburg, Kentucky. There she served as a reporter and director of public affairs programming for Appalshop’s community radio station WMMT-FM and led the station's citizen journalism project. She also co-directed and hosted WMMT’s longstanding radio show Hip Hop from the Hilltop & Calls from Home broadcasting music and messages to people incarcerated in the region. She has co-produced numerous community-based participatory media projects working with movements for a just transition from fossil fuel extraction, the abolition of the prison industrial complex, and migrant justice. In 2021, she was a recipient of the Docs in Action Film Fund through Working Films to produce and direct her film CALLS FROM HOME, which won the Jack Spadaro Documentary Award for best nonfiction film or television presentation on Appalachia or its people from the Appalachian Studies Association. Her media & written work has appeared in the New York Times, American Quarterly, the Boston Review, NPR’s Here & Now and The Takeaway, the BBC, the Marshall Project, and other outlets. 

This screening also intends to build awareness around plans being pushed forward to build a new 1,408-person federal prison in Letcher County KY on a former mountain top removal site. On March 1 the Bureau of Prisons released their "Draft Environmental Impact Statement" which opens up a required 45-day public comment period. She is a founding member of the Racial Capitalism and the Carceral State (RCCS) Working Group at Yale, and of the Building Community Not Prisons (BCNP), a local and national coalition that is fighting to stop the construction of this prison and instead demanding investment in flood recovery, housing, education, and healthcare.

The film screening will be followed by a general Q & A along with a discussion with Sylvia and Dr. Lydia Pelot-Hobbs (UK Department of Geography) on mass incarceration in Central Appalachia.


UK Athletics Association Auditorium, William T. Young Library
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