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Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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(Oct 26, 2010)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo goes behind prison walls to follow convict cowgirls on their journey to the 2007 Oklahoma State Penitentiary Rodeo. In 2006, female inmates were allowed to participate for the first time. In a state with the highest female incarceration rate in the country, these women share common experiences such as broken homes, drug abuse and alienation from their children. Since 1940, the Oklahoma State Penitentiary has held an annual Prison Rodeo . Part Wild West show and part coliseumesque spectacle, it s one of the last of its kind - a relic of the American penal system. Prisoners compete on wild-broncs and bucking bulls, risking life-long injuries. For inmates like Danny Liles, a 14-year veteran of the rodeo, the chance to battle livestock offers a brief respite from prison life. Within this strange arena the prisoners become the heroes while the public and guards applaud.

Review

Mr. Beesley s documentary is absorbing, and the rodeo provides the kind of action that the camera loves. But this is less a rah-rah sports film than a compassionate look at difficult lives in a difficult place. --New York Times

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Product Details

  • Actors: Jamie Brooks
  • Directors: Bradley Beesey
  • Format: NTSC
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Studio: Carnivalesque Films
  • DVD Release Date: October 26, 2010
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0043MMFN6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #327,452 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

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Always interesting, sometimes moving, this is a documentary about the Oklahoma Prison Rodeo, and how women prisoners were
finally being allowed to take part.

It achieves a number of worthwhile things, among them introducing us to criminals so we come to see them as human beings
with hopes and dreams in an age where portraying all criminals as monsters is more the rule. (Many of the women are in jail
for drug related offenses that took place when they were, by their own accounts, `young and stupid').

That said, the film also frustrated me. Among the female prisoners, Beesley focuses his story almost exclusively on young,
very physically attractive white and Latina women. Less attractive, or black female inmates, while glimpsed briefly, are
largely ignored This choice feels (perhaps unintentionally) sexist perhaps a bit racist as well.

Also, some darker aspects of this world are touched on, but not explored. For example, the fact that Oklahoma has almost
twice the normal rate of women in prison. Or the gladiatorial aspects of the rodeo. I'm no expert on rodeos, but some of
the `sports', as in the one where a bull is set loose in a thick crowd of prisoners who try to pull a string from between it's
horns in hope of winning $100 - resulting in quite a number being thrown in the air on the bull's horns - doesn't seem
like anything I remember from regular rodeo. It feels like something you watch to see people get hurt, not show off a
skill (as in bull or bronco riding).

By making these choices, and not asking more questions, I was left feeling a little disappointed in the film's lack of depth,
if still glad I'd seen it.
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By ALB on April 29, 2011
We learn the stories of women who made bad choices but have not quit. The Oklahoma prison decided to let the women inmates participate in one of the two prison rodeos left in the US. The women are realistic about their lives and Beesley was granted more access than I would have thought possible. I use it in my Freshman English classes when we study documentaries and the students love the stories of Crystal, Jamie, Rhonda, Danny, and Foxie. Most people don't see behind prison walls and while this is not an in your face movie my friends, family, and students who have seen this develop a greater understanding of privacy, loss, but most of all freedom in its many aspects.
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