Released after 23 years in prison for nonviolent drug offenses, a mother reconnects with her family and reflects on the legacy of the War on Drugs.

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Headshot of Commuted director, Nailah Jefferson

Nailah Jefferson

Nailah is a filmmaker intrigued and inspired by the enduring human spirit, whose films span fiction and nonfiction. Her acclaimed work has been distributed domestically and internationally on the film festival circuit, theatrically and televised. Nailah’s debut documentary Vanishing Pearls: The Oystermen of Pointe a la Hache, told the story of the Show more little known African American oyster fishing community in Plaquemines Parish and their fight for justice in the aftermath of the 2010 BP Oil Spill. The film was acquired by ARRAY and is currently available on The Urban Movie Channel. In 2017, Nailah was nominated for a National Magazine Ellie award for directing Essence Magazine’s Black Girl Magic Episode 4. Nailah’s first narrative film, Plaquemines, was awarded the inaugural Create Louisiana $50k Short Film grant. It was chosen as an American Black Film Festival HBO Shorts finalist and is currently available on HBO platforms. Nailah’s current work includes the documentary Commuted. The film has received support from Chicken & Egg, ITVS, Black Public Media and Firelight Media. Show less

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Darcy McKinnon

Darcy McKinnon is a documentary filmmaker based in New Orleans. Recent work includes Algiers, America, Look at Me! XXXTENTACION, The Neutral Ground and Under G-d. She is in production on various films including, Commuted and Roleplay. Darcy has been supported by SFFILM, CAAM, Chicken and Egg, Firelight Media, ITVS, Black Public Media, Sundance Show more Institute and the Tribeca Film Institute. She is an alum of the Impact Partners Producing Fellowship and the Sundance Institute Creative Producing Fellowship. Show less

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The Neutral Ground

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The Film

At the age of 26, Danielle Metz, an African-American mother of two with no prior arrests or convictions, was sentenced to three life sentences plus twenty years for the transporting of illegal drugs, as part of her husband’s New Orleans drug ring. Danielle reflects on her personal decisions and the systemic forces that took away her liberty and that of so many women with whom she was incarcerated. She became another number in the national trend of women incarcerated for participation in the crimes of their partners. Danielle was granted clemency by President Obama in 2016 after 23 years of incarceration. This film follows her reentry into the world as her dreams of reunion with her family clash with the reality of reentry, and the stark challenge of reclaiming the time she lost at a women’s facility in California back into a mother and daughter in her native New Orleans. Over time Danielle reconnects with her now-adult children and begins work as a violence interrupter, youth mentor, get-out-the-vote organizer, and, in the midst of a global pandemic, a resource provider connecting formerly incarcerated people with health services. With Danielle’s compelling story as an entry point, Commuted is a meditative examination of the multi-generational impact of the sentencing guidelines central to the War on Drugs, which disproportionately affect communities of color.