Linda Stirling Unmasked: The Black Whip

: Dragged from her chariot by a mob of fanatical vigilante Christian monks, the revered astronomer was stripped naked, skinned to her bones with sharp oyster shells, stoned and burned alive as possibly the first executed witch in history. A kind of purge that was apparently big business back then.



Hard Road Home: Surviving Life After Prison

By Logan Nakyanzi Pollard

Macky Alston has made a smart film, Hard Road Home, about a tough subject: ex-convicts. While it’s often the subject of entertainment – subplots of cop shows and law and order court dramas – we don’t frequently see the lives of ex-cons in a non-fictionalized, non-sensational way. The film follows men and women who try to start their lives over after serving time.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, “from 1995 to 2005, the number of jail inmates per 100,000 U.S. residents rose from 193 to 256,” so ex-convicts are among us and growing. Up against that bleak reality is Hard Road, which tells the story of Julio Medina, jailed for selling drugs and transformed by his incarceration. He served twelve years and founded a group called Exodus Transitional Community upon his release. His goal - to aid others like himself get back into the world: find jobs, resolve their addictions, support their families, be productive, and hopefully never go back to jail.

Unfortunately, everyday stresses - a broken-down car, partner drama, bills to pay - can lead to major setbacks for the men and women in the program, throwing their lives into complete chaos,. Like the story of Alberto Lopez, who struggles to keep his family together, despite a resurgent drug addition.

The men and women in the film battle each day to help each other stay away from their own self-destructivity. I saw myself there; I’ve fought to change something in myself, to do better than I have done in the past. I found myself thinking something many people are told growing up, just hang on a little longer, things will work out.

Hard Road is a poignant view of our universal frailty and strength – how hard it is to find your way out of a box, even when the top is open. Just looking up, is not always so easy.

Hard Road Home is airing on PBS Independent Lens. Check local listings.
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Logan Nakyanzi Pollard is a producer at Air America and Go Left TV. She writes articles and film reviews online at The Huffington Post, at Logan is also a member of the Women Film Critics Circle.

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