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Sundance: HBO Buys Prison Documentary ‘The Sentence’

HBO has acquired U.S. television and streaming rights to the documentary feature film “The Sentence” in the wake of its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.

First-time filmmaker Rudy Valdez’s movie centers on the aftermath of his sister Cindy Shank’s incarceration and explores the  consequences of mandatory minimum sentencing. Shank received a 15-year mandatory sentence in 2008 for conspiracy charges related to crimes committed by her deceased ex-boyfriend.

Valdez’s method of coping with the tragedy was to film his sister’s family for her, both the everyday details and the milestones. Valdez finds his voice as both a filmmaker and activist, and he and his family begin to fight for Shank’s release during the last months of the Obama administration’s clemency initiative.

The Sentence” was produced by Park Pictures’ Sam Bisbee and Jackie Kelman Bisbee. Executive producers are Wendy Neu, Lance Acord and Theodora Dunlap. Co-producers are Geeta Gandbhir and April Hayes.

HBO plans to debut the film later this year. Cinetic handled domestic sales on the title.

Valdez said, “This film has been more than ten years in the making and we wanted to make sure we found the right home, especially given the intimate nature of the story. In partnering with HBO, we’re excited about working together to get this film out into the world and make as huge an impact as possible.”

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