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‘A Woman On The Outside’ First Look Trailer: Documentary Chronicles The Effects Of Prison Life On Black Women

A Woman On The Outside

Deadline has your first look trailer of the documentary feature A Woman on the Outside, which premiered at SXSW in March 2022 and won Best Documentary Feature at the American Black Film Festival and Best North American Documentary Feature at the Mammoth Lakes Film Festival. 

A Woman on the Outside is the feature debut of directors Zara Katz and Lisa Riordan Seville, who are also producers. The film is produced and written by Kiara C. Jones, whose credits include director of Christmas Wedding Baby and co-producer of Rashaad Ernesto Green’s Premature. Suzannah Herbert, director of the feature documentary Wrestle, edited the film. It’s presented by Schuylkill Punch Productions in association with Cultivated Films and executive produced by Doree Friedman. 

Filmed over more than four years, the story follows Kristal Bush, a young Philadelphia woman who saw nearly every man in her life disappear to prison. The trailer opens with her on the road, driving for her van service, which takes families to visit their incarcerated loved ones in prisons hundreds of miles from the city. She lives that life too – her father has been locked up most of her life, her middle brother has been in prison more than a decade, and her oldest brother cycles in and out of jail. 

When she’s not behind the wheel of the van, Kristal is a social worker and guardian to her brother’s young son, Nyvae. When Kristal’s father and brother come home after decades behind bars, Kristal and Nyvae have to navigate what it means to have the men back in their lives as they try to escape the criminal justice system’s gravitational pull. Weaving intimate, vérité scenes with Kristal’s videos and social media, A Woman on the Outside is a portrait of one family striving to love in the face of a system built to break them. 

“There are so many systems that are in place that divide Black families,” Bush said. “The foster care system. The criminal justice system. The financial and emotional burdens we endure. The years lost by being apart. So often, our stories, the stories of the women who support loved ones in prison are left out of the narratives about incarceration. I hope this film is a way for people to understand more, for the system to become a little better.” 

“At least a quarter of American women know someone who is incarcerated,” said Katz. “For Black women, it’s more than half. We wanted to capture the breath of that experience — the joy, hardship and the perseverance of the women who support loved ones behind bars. This is a human story, a family story and an American story.”

Seville added, “For six years, we have collaborated with Kristal and her family to make a film about their experience, through the female lens. Braiding Kristal’s photos, videos and voice with our verite footage, we strove to go beyond a story about prison to tell one of family, love and how women care for themselves while caring for others.” 

A Woman on the Outside’s trailer was produced by CREATE as this year’s winner of the Black History Month trailer contest.


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