Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo: Western Swing Tour

September 16, 2010 – Cinema Purgatorio announced today that documentary Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo will make its theatrical debut nationwide in a Western Swing tour starting this September.  The tour includes dates at movie theatres, universities, and correctional facilities.

Director Bradley Beesley will accompany the tour, which starts in NYC, moves to Austin and to venues across the deserts and mountains, then into the Pacific Northwest, before heading back toward Oklahoma.  He will be a special guest at regional festivals in New Orleans, Seattle and the Starz Film Center in Denver, and at a special screening for inmates at the Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility.  The theatrical roll out will be followed by the Carnivalesque Films DVD release, scheduled for October 25, 2010.

Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo goes behind prison walls to follow convict cowgirls on their journey to the 2007 Oklahoma State Penitentiary Rodeo. In 2006, female inmates were allowed to participate for the first time. In a state with the highest female incarceration rate in the country, these women share common experiences such as broken homes, drug abuse and alienation from their children.

Since 1940, the Oklahoma State Penitentiary has held an annual ‘Prison Rodeo.’ Part Wild West show and part coliseum-esque spectacle; it’s one of the last of its kind – a relic of the American penal system. Prisoners compete on wild-broncs and bucking bulls, risking life-long injuries. For inmates like Danny Liles, a 14-year veteran of the rodeo, the chance to battle livestock offers a brief respite from prison life. Within this strange arena the prisoners become the heroes while the public and guards applaud.

The film has been called “Honest, moving and uplifting” (Filmmaker Magazine), “A pure a piece of movie-making. Gorgeous, insightful, hilarious!” (AJ Schnack), and “a story of gladiatorial desperation and hope, tied up with one whole lot of Oklahoman heart” (Time Out London).

Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo was previously viewed at SXSW, BFI London and AFI-Discovery Channel Silverdocs Documentary Festival and had its broadcast premiere with HBO Documentary Films and Channel 4 in London.