In a love story filled with struggle, pain, and incredible endurance that spans over 21 years, “Time” tells the unconventional love story of Fox and Rob Rich. They were newly married high school sweethearts trying to start a business when one choice changed their lives forever. The couple in a moment of desperation robbed a bank, were caught, plead guilty, and sentenced to jail. Fox served three and a half years, but Rob was sentenced to sixty years in prison. Once released, Fox dedicated her life to raising their six boys, reinserting herself into society, and fighting for her husband’s release from prison.
Time debuted at the Sundance film festival earlier this year collecting rave reviews and the prize for best director for US documentary, earning director Garrett Bradley a place in history as the first Black woman to win the award. In this beautifully shot documentary, Time shows a radical form of love, strength, and resilience in the midst of being part of the prison industrial complex, a system that historically sentences black and brown people more harshly than whites and rips apart families in the process. Nearly half of prisoners serving sentences of 50 years or longer are black. Fox Rich says that is by design.
“This system is intentional. It is a system that traps black, brown, and poor people. It was not just the decision we made but the state violence conducted upon us after our actions that led to the long-suffering of our family and perpetuation of harm. People say the system is broken. There is nothing about this system that is broken. It is a well-oiled, well-fed, well-designed tool that has so many tentacles; Bail reform, the death penalty, aging prisoners, collect calls, the inhumane treatment and conditions at prisons-there are so there are many moving parts. This system is doing exactly what it was intended to do but the system has to be re-engineered.”-Fox Rich
Using footage shot by Bradley combined with Fox Rich’s own video diaries, Time chronicles what life is like for those left behind when a loved one goes to prison. We watch Fox fighting for her husband’s release, running a business, and becoming an activist for prison reform while raising her six sons. She is a woman who acknowledges her past but refuses to allow herself or her family to be defined by it.
We watch her evolution as a woman, wife, mother, and activist throughout the film. She is bold, authentic, and powerful as an activist and public speaker but also vulnerable and filled with pain as we can see the void her husband’s absence has caused and the pain of missing the one you love so deeply. We watch with joy as her sons, who have only had a paper cutout of the father hanging on the wall of their home, grow into young accomplished men who break every stereotype of children of incarcerated parents.
“Time is what you make of it, time is unbiased, time is lost, time flies. This situation has just been a long time.”-son, Justus
Fox Rich is determined to keep her family together and to ensure her sons know who they are and are not covered in shame at having parents who were incarcerated. When asked how she approached raising her children, Fox stressed the importance of always being honest.
“It was important to tell our sons the truth and what their truth was. Rob and I never sugar-coated it or dismissed it. We wanted them to be comfortable in their own skin. For us, we always accepted responsibility for what we did. We never hid our choices and we learned to forgive ourselves. That enabled us to be open to receive forgiveness from our community. I wanted to instill in our children that just because you made a bad decision does not mean you are a bad person. You are of greatness. I told my boys that you cannot allow society to dehumanize you or minimize you because your family made a mistake.”
While this film uses the prison industrial complex and the circumstances that pushed FoxandRob Rich (as they prefer to be called when together) into the system, as the frame in this story, “Time” isn’t about the crime committed and offers few details into the specifics of the case. What “Time” is, however, is a true testament to the power of love is, and how it can transform and strengthen families.
That is the ultimate form of resistance.
“Time” debuts in select theatres October 9 and Worldwide on Amazon Prime Video, October 16.
Danielle Sanders is a writer and journalist living in Chicago. Find her on social media @DanieSandersofficial