People stuck in the revolving door of prison recidivism are oft dismissed as career criminals or simply bad, but a more complex truth is bared in Tod Lending’s “Omar & Pete.” Chronicling the struggles to stay “outside” by two middle-aged African American men, docu is a vivid, sobering and sympathetic portrait of heavily stacked odds in action. Skedded for broadcast on PBS’ “P.O.V.” in September, pic should have a long future in educational outreach.
Released from his latest, 15-year-sentence (both he and Pete have been in and out since their teens on charges from armed robbery to drug dealing), Omar is determined to make it. He has new strengths to call on: Long-term sobriety, conversion to Islam, enrollment in an experimental re-entry program. Perhaps most important, he has the support of longtime friend Pete, now resident manager at the transition house they both live in. But their poor Baltimore neighborhood is as full of temptations as ever. When over-ambitious attempts to start his own small businesses fail, Omar proves wrenchingly unable to uphold parole conditions. Sharply assembled verite package packs considerable cumulative punch.