BEYOND BARS: Prison Women Speak

More than 740,000 women are in prison around the world. 200,000 of them are in the United States. In the last 40 years the rate of female incarceration has risen by an alarming rate of 700%. The United States accounts for over 30% of incarcerated women in the world yet has only 5% of the world’s female population. Locking up women does not improve society. 60% are child survivors of physical violence, mental abuse, and sexual assault. Hawai`i locks up a higher percentage of people than wealthy democracies like the United Kingdom, Canada, and France. Female prisoners are extremely vulnerable – with histories of poverty and trauma. 60% are child survivors of physical violence, mental abuse, physical violence, mental abuse, and sexual assault. Locking up women does not improve society. From 2012 to 2022 Tadia Rice worked with women in Hawai`is only women's prison. She captures stories from five women who served and are still serving time there. Their voices are often quieted, even silenced, but with determination, courage, and resilience, these five inmates tell their stories in a poignant and compelling observational documentary short that moves audiences with compassion and understanding of a vulnerable demographic in our nation.

Copyright; Tahirih Association
Genre: Observational Documentary Short
Time: 27:42
Created: March 2023

  • Tadia Rice
  • Tadia Rice
  • Tadia Rice
  • Momilani Cody
    Key Cast
  • Zoe O'Brien
    Key Cast
  • Tiana Soto
    Key Cast
  • Faimafili Tupuola
    Key Cast
  • Jess Hinebaugh
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short
  • Runtime:
    25 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    February 18, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    10,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital, 35mm
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • 12th Annual Honolulu African American Film Festival, Doris Duke Theatre at the Honolulu Museum of Art
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    United States
    February 18, 2023
    Honolulu Premier
    Official Selection
  • Baltimore, Maryland
    United States
    September 22, 2022
    North American Premier
    Official Exhibition
  • Toronto International Women Film Festival
    February 24, 2023
    Toronto, Canada
  • LA Independent Film Channel Festival
    Los Angeles
    United States
    April 3, 2023
    Virtual Festival
    Official Selection
  • Cannes International Shorts
    May 8, 2023
    Online festival
    Best First Time Filmmaker
Distribution Information
  • Tadia Rice
    Sales Agent
    Country: Worldwide
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - Tadia Rice

Dame Tadia Rice is a first-time filmmaker who is also an on-air personality with a weekly radio show on the global digital radio station WOMan Radio.
In 2000 Rice founded the Tahirih Association, a non-profit that fosters the advancement of women and girls around the world by providing education scholarships, and supporting a food program and a safe house for women and their families in South Africa. The Tahirih Association has also provided sanitary napkins to targeted granted education scholarships to 22 girls and women in six countries: Lakota/Oglala Nation (1); Liberia (10); Honduras (1); Namibia (1); South Africa (1); United States (8). In 2012 Tadia created the BEYOND BARS: Prison Women Speak in-prison program and spent ten years volunteering at the Women’s Correctional Center, the only prison for women in Hawai`i. In 2023 she created the BEYOND BARS Reentry Program for women being released from that facility. Now Executive Director of this innovative reentry program she oversees restoration/rehabilitation services that offer optimal healing within a construct of conscious transformation for personal growth and successful reentry into the community. Using educational methodologies, the program is intended to reduce recidivism by providing a 25-module Personal Development curriculum and recovery system that addresses social and cultural determinants, mentoring, skillset development, employment opportunities, and more. Documenting her work in-prison work, Tadia’s first-ever film, BEYOND BARS: Prison Women Speak, is a testament to her dedicated work to uplift women.
Formerly Rice was a multidisciplinary executive with more than 20 years of international experience in senior management and media, using design thinking and innovative business strategies. She is an expert in organizational dynamics with diversity, equity, inclusion, and cultural competence at the forefront. Rice has extensive experience in enterprise transformation for multiple sectors and diverse industries. Trained by Fortune 500 companies, she understands issues, challenges, and new perspectives using lateral, vertical, and indigenous thinking. Rice Inspires confidence and creates trust using emotional intelligence and successful management coaching. She effectively negotiates strategic alliances using excellent relationship-building skills. Rice is known for creating vision, defining strategy, and achieving success using a consultative approach to build consensus. Recognized for excellence in communications, with strong organizational writing, verbal, inter-personal communication skills, as well as public relations/public information practice, Rice has trained shakers and movers in thought-leadership, corporate mediation, business resource allocation, team building, employee performance, professional development, and company culture amelioration. As an speaker in demand, Rice is an author and expert contributor to industry publications on numerous subjects including gender issues, climate mitigation, cultural competence, artificial intelligence, technology, international affairs, incarceration, expressive arts, social justice, and more. Serving Hawai‘i Maoli (US 501.c.3 established in 1997) as Board Secretary for six years Rice helped direct this fiscal sponsor and project manager to Hawaiian civic organizations and Native Hawaiians to empower cultural practices for economic benefit. She maximized fundraising to expand donor development, and provided oversight of operational procedures, grant writing, and business practices to meet the requirements of stakeholders and regulators. Hawai‘i Maoli implemented 25+ projects worth $12.5M.
Rice is a global citizen with a passion for people and our world. For her service to several communities Rice has been honored by the City and County of Honolulu; United States Congress; California State Senate; and the United Nations Association. In 2022 Rice received the Stars of Oceania Leadership Award from the University of Hawaii. Prior to that she became a Medalist of Honor from the prestigious Ellis Island Honors Society, and in 2016 she was inducted as a Dame Knight by the Orthodox Order of Saint John, a preeminent international relief organization.

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Director Statement

I give voice to women whose words have been quieted, whose spirits have been crushed, whose hearts have been broken, whose lives have been dehumanized.

The voices are often grounIded in loss, sorrow, and despair. Itʻs an unbearably painful reality inside Hawai`iʻs overcrowded ugly, and only, prison for women. Surviving endless mourning, woven together by regret and shame, shackled inside a punishing place, the chorus is collective, singing unheard verses of a song in the key of repentance, locked away from society, locked out of the economy, locked up in prison cells. Confined are grandmothers, mothers, sisters, nieces, some old, many

The voices became a harsh discordant cacophony as I interviewed more and more female felons for nearly a decade. While at times seeming unreal and unbearable, their stories are poignant reminders that anyone, given certain circumstances, can end up behind bars. The common thread is childhood trauma, violence, addiction, homelessness, and repeated sexual assaults. Their stories range from drunk-driving accidents that killed best friends, to being convicted of the murder of a man as she protected herself from beatings, forced prostitution, and rape by other men - in a state without a self-defense law.

The stories are endless.

Once you know the faces of these women you understand how it could have been you. Such life-changing circumstances can happen to the best of people, and the worst.

What did they do... how did they get there... what happened inside... what happens when they get out?

Whether in the inside or outside, all are working with the goal to re-enter society in whatever way they can, to piece together a different, better life for themselves and their children.

Listen to their voices.