Freedom Road

A film by Lorna Ann Johnson

2004 | 35 minutes | Color/BW | DVD | Order No. 05879


FREEDOM ROAD is a barren stretch that leads in and out of the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women. Yet for some of the women incarcerated there, freedom has been redefined through the power of the pen. A testament to the profound influence of arts and education, Lorna Johnson’s compelling film features six female prisoners who are part of a unique memoir-writing workshop called “Woman is the Word.” Reading classic autobiographies such as INCIDENTS IN THE LIFE OF A SLAVE GIRL by Harriet Ann Jacobs and THE CANCER JOURNALS by Audre Lorde, the women are empowered to claim the events of their own lives and retell their own stories—ultimately liberating them from long-held secrets and silence.

Moving interviews with the women inmates, their instructors and family members combined with verité footage of their fascinating classroom discussions reveal how poverty, under-education, domestic abuse have had a role in the destiny of many women in the program. Ultimately, the film examines the devastating cycle of imprisonment for the poor and underprivileged, and points to an inspired embodiment of prison reform.


“By choosing subjects in the most disenfranchised segment of our society- women in a maximum security prison- the filmmaker vividly portrays the human potential to learn, imagine, and heal.”

Janet Wilson Assistant Professor of Theatre, Illinois State University

“A wonderful think piece for students of human behavior. The images of the incarcerated women in this documentary stay with me for days every time I see it. I was so moved by the potency of this film that I made its viewing required in all my classes.”

John Krimmel Department of Criminology and Justice Studies, The College of NJ


  • Big Bear Lake Film Festival
  • Femmes en Resistance Film Festival


Lorna Ann Johnson

Lorna Ann Johnson is an award winning filmmaker whose films have been screened extensively at film-festivals nationally and internationally. She has won awards from the Mill Valley Film Festival, the National Black Programming Consortium and has been invited to present her work at Whitney Humanities Center at Yale University, George Washington University and most recently the Montreal Human Rights Film Festival. Most recently she is the recipient of the 2012 Leeway Transformation Award granted to an artist whose work demonstrates a commitment to social change.

Her film MY WOLVERINE received the Jury Award at the 5@5 Program at the Mill Valley Film Festival and Best Experimental from the National Black Programming Consortium. Her documentary FREEDOM ROAD (2004) which profiles women prisoners in a memoir writing workshop has been broadcast nationally, screened internationally and is currently distributed by Women Make Movies. JUST ANOTHER WAR, a documentary chronicling the impact of war on three women has been screened at the Athens Film Festival in Ohio and the Montreal Internal Human Rights Film Festival.

Her most recent film, titled ...ABOUT LOVE, a film which looks at love lost, love found and love hoped for was just completed. It screened at the 2012 Reelsisters Film Festival in Brooklyn, New York. (8/14)


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