IFAFF Film Festival Amplifies Bail Reform with “Trapped: Cash Bail in America”

The virtual 7th IFAFF International will screen feature-length documentaries, feature films, and topical shorts, all with themes centered on the epidemic of mass incarceration, the criminal justice system, racism and white supremacy, gun violence, police brutality, unfair housing, immigration, social unrest, and other human rights violations.

America imprisons more citizens than any other nation in the world. Currently, there are over 2.2 million prisoners, a rate of more than 698 per 100,000 citizens. This number does not include the accelerated detentions over the last several years associated with immigration, which in 2011, averaged more than 30,000 daily. As of March 2019, that figure rose to nearly 50,000. Currently, over 600,000 people reside in jails throughout America. The majority are awaiting trial, and, according to our system of justice, are presumed innocent.

The film festival brings additional context to the films and their messages through a variety of panel conversations as well as the inclusion of spoken word segments. It also includes a film competition for new movies and “Justice Awards” for exceptional films that best demonstrate the challenges and tragedies of our broken justice systems. While the focus is on new films that are submitted into the competition, a variety of older films highlighting the historical perspectives of today’s challenges also are screened.

IFAFF Chicago Defender

One of the films shown at the IFAFF Festival is “Trapped: Cash Bail in America”.  Former Washington Post editor turned filmmaker and producer; Chris Jenkins created the film to shine a light on how the cash bail system exploits marginalized communities due to their inability to pay.   The Chicago Defender spoke with Chris Jenkins about America’s current bail money system and how it continues to fuel the mass incarceration pipeline while costing taxpayers millions.

The 7th IFAFF International will run over a 10-day period from August 12-21. Free tickets are available by visiting www.injusticeforallff.com or https://watch.eventive.org/injusticeforallff. In addition to screening films, this year’s festival will include grand opening events; spoken-word interludes featuring exciting Chicago poets; special guest speakers; panelists/panel discussions providing context to the many films to be featured over the 10 days (dealing with organizing, restorative justice, domestic violence, immigration, bail reform, racism, eviction, and, of course, mass incarceration); and closing ceremony/awards events.


Danielle Sanders is a journalist and writer living in Chicago. Find her on social media @DanieSanders20 and @DanieSandersOfficial.

Hashtag – #IFAFF2021

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