The Work - SIFF Review (2017)

NR Running Time: 89 mins



  • Visceral, stunning, with emotional arcs completely unexpected, The Work is a riveting tale of redemption, forgiveness, and confronting pain and overcoming obstacles.


  • There are those who will find the premise of the film and the program morally challenged, especially for those who struggle to be objective in stories of redemption of people in prison.


A powerful documentary, The Work visits Folsom Prison and takes place largely in a single room. Director Jairus McLeary documents the efforts of three men from the outside world who conduct rehabilitation sessions with four Level-four convicts.

McLeary, and co-director Gethin Aldous, volunteered with the organization holding therapy sessions for years, gaining the trust of the inmates, and permission to film the efforts to work through the pain and struggles which surround them.

Within the film's first 10-15 minutes, a character is unexpectedly moved to emotion and the film proves cathartic for participant and viewer. Confronting some harsh truth, and deep-seeded pain, The Work can be a tough viewing experience, but one that gives us great insight into the shared experiences from inside and outside the prison walls.

In all honesty, I have never seen a film quite like The Work and although some may take issue with the empathy shared with convicted felons, the human in all of us must appreciate the raw and visceral power, trust, compassion, and speaking your truth can have on all of us, no matter where we call home or what we have experienced in our lives.



Director: Jairus McLeary
Co-Director: Gethin Aldous
SIFF Premiere Date: May 27, 2017
The Orchard