HBO has acquired the U.S. television and streaming rights to the documentary feature film THE SENTENCE which had its premiere at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival in the U.S. Documentary Competition category. First-time filmmaker Rudy Valdez’s moving film about the aftermath of his sister’s incarceration is a searing look at the devastating consequences of mandatory minimum sentencing. The film received critical acclaim and multiple standing ovations throughout the festival.
THE SENTENCE draws from hundreds of hours of footage to tell the story of Cindy Shank, a woman who received a 15-year mandatory sentence for conspiracy charges related to crimes committed by her deceased ex-boyfriend—something known, in legal terms, as “the girlfriend problem.” Cindy’s brother Rudy Valdez’s method of coping with this tragedy is to film his sister’s family for her, both the everyday details and the milestones—moments Cindy herself can no longer share in.
But in the midst of this nightmare, Valdez finds his voice as both a filmmaker and activist, and he and his family begin to fight for Cindy’s release during the last months of the Obama administration’s clemency initiative. Whether their attempts will allow Cindy to break free of her draconian sentence becomes the aching question at the core of this deeply personal portrait of a family in crisis.
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.”
ABOUT RUDY VALDEZ (Director)
Rudy Valdez is a Michigan-raised, Brooklyn-based filmmaker. He got his start as a camera operator on the Peabody Award-winning Sundance Channel series “Brick City” and has worked as a cinematographer for directors and producers such as Sebastian Junger, Whoopi Goldberg, Geeta Gandbhir and Sam Pollard. Ten years in the making, THE SENTENCE is Rudy’s directorial debut. When not working you can find Rudy at the park with his wife and daughter.
ABOUT PARK PICTURES
At the 2018 Sundance Film Festival Park Pictures has three films premiering: Rudy Valdez’ documentary THE SENTENCE, Brett Haley’s HEARTS BEAT LOUD (Nick Offerman, Blythe Danner, Sasha Lane, Ted Danson, Toni Colette, Kiersey Clemons) and Jim Hosking’s AN EVENING WITH BEVERLY LUFF LINN (Aubrey Plaza, Craig Robinson, Jemaine Clement, Emile Hirsch).
Launched in the summer of 2010, Park Pictures Features is led by producers Jackie Kelman Bisbee, Lance Acord and Sam Bisbee. Kelman Bisbee and Acord are the owners of Park Pictures, an award winning commercial production company with offices in New York, Los Angeles, and London. Park’s debut narrative film was the 2010 ACADEMY AWARD Winning Live Action Short, The New Tenants. Park Pictures Features followed with SUNDANCE 2012 selected, Robot & Frank (Frank Langella, Susan Sarandon, Peter Sarsgaard, James Marsden, Liv Tyler) directed by Park Pictures’ Jake Schreier (SONY WORLDWIDE/SAMUEL GOLDYWN).
Following the successful release of Robot and Frank, Park completed two feature films in 2013 that went on to be selected for the SUNDANCE 2014 Dramatic Competition; God’s Pocket, directed by John Slattery (Philip Seymour Hoffman, Richard Jenkins, John Turturro, Christina Hendricks) acquired by IFC/NBC UNIVERSAL and the GOLDEN GLOBE nominated, Infinitely Polar Bear, directed by Maya Forbes (Mark Ruffalo, Zoe Saldana) acquired by SONY PICTURES CLASSICS. In 2014, Park Pictures produced the Jon Watts’ thriller, Cop Car (Kevin Bacon) which premiered at SUNDANCE 2015 Midnight section (FOCUS WORLD).
Park continued its quest to tell great stories in 2016 with the “Sundance Opening Night, Dramatic Competition” feature, Other People – written and directed by Chris Kelly (Molly Shannon, Jesse Plemons, Bradley Whitford) and that went on to earn four Independent Spirit Awards nominations in 2017. Park’s next feature, The Hero, (Sam Elliott, Laura Prepon, Nick Offerman, Krysten Ritter, Katharine Ross) premiered in competition at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival where it was acquired by THE ORCHARD.