This is Sam

 

This is Sam

In 1997, Sam Cordner had been out of prison for 10 years.  He was happy, living in Connecticut with his 8 year old son, Stephen.  His parole officer found out he’d taken a joy ride in a stolen car in 1992 -- five years earlier.  He was sent back to prison in Texas.  When he was released a year later he wanted to go home to be with his son.  His request for parole transfer back home to Connecticut was denied.  Mired in anger and drugs, his life spiraled out of control and he soon found himself back in prison, serving another four years.  But then something happened:  he decided to change.

I call This is Sam an accidental documentary. I first met Sam in prison. I was volunteering in the Prison Entrepreneurship Program, a program that works to channel felons' natural entrepreneurial skills in legitimate directions. I sensed something about Sam. Perhaps it was the peace of mind I saw reflected in his Buddhist philosophy, or his sincere desire to see his son after being separated from him for 10 years. Perhaps it was just his hardy laugh and big smile.

I soon agreed to mentor Sam upon his release in February of 2007. Since he was not able to return to his home in Connecticut, I agreed to shoot some film of him so his son could get a better sense of who he was. This love letter to a son became This is Sam. -- Scott Jones