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“The function of art is to do more then tell it like it is—it is to imagine what is possible”

bell hooks

Since I Been Down Gilda Sheppard portrait


Since I Been Down tells the dramatic story of how an American community held captive by 1990’s punitive policies lead children into gangs, violence, and for a false sense of safety, security and prosperity, this community rushed to discard the poorest, targeted brown and black youth into prisons for life. Nearly forty years later, a model and pathway to justice and healing is led from inside prison walls. A pathway uncovering, why children turn to violence, and a model of justice to transform their lives, prisons, justice and our own humanity. This is a story told by those who live it.

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Public Speaking

“The culture of punishment and its consequence is our shared reality in America today. Especially in these times of legislated violence and fear of difference, who better to show us the triumph of the human spirit than those caught behind bars for life?”

Filmmaker Gilda Sheppard

Published Work

"Director Gilda Sheppard is a gifted teacher, incisive scholar, committed activist, and a talented filmmaker who's dedicated her life to the education and liberation of poor and oppressed people -- especially black people in the era of mass incarceration.  We all owe her a debt of gratitude for her brilliant work and steadfast commitment to justice.”


Michelle Alexander, Civil Rights Attorney; Author “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness”

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"I hope that all of you have seen the amazing film SINCE I BEEN DOWN. If you are not convinced of the liberatory potential of education, I guarantee you will be transformed after seeing this film!”   Angela Davis, Activist, Author, Distinguished Professor Emerita UC Santa Cruz

Since I Been Down film poster
  • 2023 Docs Without Borders "Best of Fest Youth Issues"

  • 2023 New York City Independent Festival, Gilda Sheppard for Best Director

  • 2022 Rotterdam Film Festival, Best Documentary Feature

  • 2022 Meaningful Movies Project, Turner Legacy Award

Since I Been Down



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