“I had a hard name in that place” says Michael, one of the eight ex-cons in Alan Zweig’s new film. His turn of phrase refers to more than just a bad reputation. He’s talking about a hardness of spirit. It may have served him well as a criminal or a prisoner. In the outside world however, that hardness can get in the way. But slipping off the bonds of that hardness is easier said than done.
In A HARD NAME, we meet eight middle-aged ex-convicts, chosen at random, who are trying to stay out of prison, perhaps for the first time in their lives. Most have spent 30 to 40 years in and out of jail. Prison is what they know; they’ve learned how to survive there. Out here, it’s a different story. As each of the characters in the film tries to adapt to life on the outside, they share their stories, reflect on their past, and explore the path that led them to prison in the first place.
Top Ten Audience Favourite – Hot Docs, 2009
Genie Award – Best Feature Length Documentary, 2010