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Inside looking out

Feb 14. 2019
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The new HBO Films drama O G is coming to Thailand on February 24, launching at the same time as the US at 10am exclusively with a same day encore at 10.30pm.

The film will also be available on HBO GO via AIS Play and AIS Playbox.. 

Starring Jeffrey Wright, the film is directed by Madeleine Sackler and written by Stephen Belber. 

O G follows Louis (Wright), once the head of a prominent prison gang, in the final weeks of his 24-year sentence. His impending release is upended when he takes new arrival Beecher (Theothus Carter), who is being courted by gang leadership, under his wing. Coming to grips with the indelibility of his crime and the challenge of reentering society, Louis finds his freedom hanging in the balance as he struggles to save Beecher.

Also starring Theothus Carter and William Fichtner (“Crash”), OG premiered at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival, where Wright won the award for Best Actor in a US Narrative Feature Film. It was filmed over a five-week period at Indiana’s maximum-security Pendleton Correctional Facility – an active prison with several of the incarcerated men and prison staff appearing as first-time actors.

O G takes an intimate and unflinching look at the journey of one man at the precipice of freedom. 

Director Madeleine Sackler describes the inspiration behind the film’s uniquely realistic approach, nothing, “There have been so many prison films that it’s become a genre of its own. To me, when a type of story becomes a genre, it can lose its uniqueness or its specificity in the storytelling.

“My goal was to disregard the prison genre and start from scratch, starting with one character, a man preparing to leave after many years behind bars. To do that as authentically as possible, to truly understand and portray that experience, I wanted to make the film in close collaboration with people going through the experience themselves, so I started calling different departments of correction around the country. And I was very lucky when the state of Indiana called me back.

“This film wouldn’t be what it is if we hadn’t made it as a collaboration with the prison and with hundreds of men incarcerated there. And to have two films come out of the experience, one fiction and one nonfiction, is very exciting. We were able to explore many different themes.”

For Wright, filming inside an active prison was a unique experience and helped him step inside his character. He explains, “It was absolutely necessary for me to wrap my head and my body around who this character was and what the story was that we were trying to tell. It’s a pretty informative place. It’s an affecting place. There’s an energy inside that place unlike no other, no other. It’s heavy, it’s kind of laden with trauma. It’s just molecularly heavy inside, and it certainly informed our understanding of the story, of the issues, and in my case, the character that I was playing.”

Sackler describes her introduction to Theothus Carter, saying, “His audition was incredible. We were watching hundreds of people in one week, and you can’t imagine the array of men who are incarcerated, and the talent and depth that they bring to the dialogue. There’s just no replacement for the real way that people move and interact and talk. And then Theothus came in, and he just blew me and the casting director away. And then he worked harder than anyone else.”

Wright says, “Theothus was all business, and he has a force to him. He has capabilities that we see through this film, that he had never tapped into in a way as constructive as this, perhaps in his lifetime.”

After the screenplay for O G had been developed and Sackler was prepping to shoot the film, she began collaborating with 13 men incarcerated at the facility on a nonfiction film. In “It’s A Hard Truth Ain’t It”, codirected by Sackler and those men, several of whom were also first-time actors, they study filmmaking as a vehicle to explore their memories and examine how they ended up with decades-long sentences. Animated sequences by Yoni Goodman (“Waltz with Bashir”) bring their stories to life.

“In a way, O G and “It’s A Hard Truth Ain’t It” are two different sides of the same coin. In O G, Louis is preparing to leave prison after 24 years of incarceration. In “It’s A Hard Truth Ain’t It”, the men look deeper into the paths that got them to prison in the first place. In that sense, neither film is about being in prison, but something deeper,” says Sackler.  


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