Bridge Builders

Throughout the U.S., change-makers of all ages and backgrounds are fighting for criminal justice reform, creating community transformation that inspires hope nationwide.

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Independent Lens
Premiere Date
April 1, 2023
Funding Initiative
Short-Form Series and Special Projects
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Zac Manuel

Zac Manuel is a New Orleans filmmaker and the son of a touring jazz musician and a community builder at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. His work in documentary and music video explores intimacy, Black masculinity, class, identity, and inheritance. His most recent films include Time, The Cut, Nonstop, and This Body

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Lauren G Cargo

Lauren Grace Cargo is a New Orleans-based independent producer and casting director whose practice spans the worlds of narrative and documentary filmmaking. Her work focuses on the uncelebrated uniquenesses of the human spirit. Projects she's contributed to have played at Sundance, New Orleans FF, the Super Bowl, the Whitney Biennial, and PBS.

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The Film

Across the United States, community leaders of different ages, backgrounds and geographies are fighting for criminal justice reform. Their work has tangible impacts on the lives of those around them and together they look to a future where no one is left behind. Independent Lens Bridge Builders is a series of short documentaries highlighting these changemakers and their communities, collectively crafting a picture of the reform landscape nationwide. 

Their stories include Haki Sekou, one of two Community Health Workers at the Formerly Incarcerated Transitions (FIT) Clinic in New Orleans. Equipped with his own experiences from time served at Angola Louisiana State Penitentiary, Haki empowers recently released individuals who are facing the same roadblocks that he encountered through education, understanding, and care. 

Jennifer Carreon, a Chicana from the Laredo, Texas border and Director of the Criminal Justice Project with Texas Appleseed, works to reshape the Texas Criminal Legal system. Rooted in a bottom-up approach to social change, she is a bridge between system impacted communities of color and legislators. 

Trina Reynolds Tyler is a journalist and a data analyst who leads Beneath the Surface, an investigation into gender based violence buried in police complaints in Chicago. Trina sifts through misconduct data to identify patterns of abuse that are misclassified, present findings to the public, and expand discourse around police misconduct.

Ny Nourn is the Co-Director of the Asian Prisoner Support Committee (APSC), a Bay Area coalition that provides direct support to incarcerated Asian American and Pacific Islanders. Ny works to dismantle the prison to deportation pipeline and bring community members home.

And Community Aid Network, a Minneapolis-based mutual aid collective formed in August 2020 to address immediate needs of underserved communities suffering from the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and systemic racism; they build bonds between neighbors, organize volunteers, and redistribute resources. 

These organizations, and the people who drive them, are beacons of hope across a landscape of turmoil.