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A Memoir of Brutality, Poetry Comes to Life

Bloomfield filmmaker Daniel Glick tells the life story of convict-turned-poet Jimmy Santiago Baca in an upcoming movie, "A Place to Stand."

 

Bloomfield filmmaker Daniel Glick is working on a project he hopes will change the world.

His new documentary, A Place to Stand, tells the astonishing story of convict-turned-poet Jimmy Santiago Baca, whose life of brutality and despair was redeemed by art.  

“Long considered one of the best poets in America today, Baca was illiterate at the age of twenty-one and faced five to ten years in prison for selling drugs,” reads the book’s cover. A Place to Stand is the remarkable tale of how he emerged after his years in the penitentiary – much of it spent in isolation – with the ability to read and a passion for writing poetry.”

Glick, 28, was not even born in 1973 when Baca was first incarcerated.  Still, the poet’s story resonated so deeply with Glick that quit his job and traveled to New Mexico in 2011 to make a film about Baca’s life.

In a Bloomfield café on a hot July afternoon, Glick sat down with Patch to tell his own story.

Patch:  How did you get your start?

Glick:  I was a political science major at Rutgers University.  In my last year there I picked up a camera.  From that moment, it was pretty clear that’s what I wanted to do. 

My parents desperately tried to steer me away from it, to no avail.

Patch:  What is it about Baca’s story that inspired you to make this film?

Glick:  Two and half years ago, I visited a prisoner at the Auburn Correctional Facility in New York, a maximum security prison.

I left there with the feeling that nothing good could ever come out of [incarceration.]  It was strikingly clear that this was not a place of rehabilitation.  It was about punishment.  Anyone who left there would carry something dark with them, always.

Patch:  If Baca was here, what would he say about prison?

Glick:  (After a pause, Glick reads a passage from A Place to Stand): “No one will help you in here; you’re on your own.  F**k family, dreams, hopes, plans; when it comes down to it, you do what you have to do . . . and if you don’t, every day will be a hell you’ve never imagined.  When the mind says, ‘I am human’, the heart growls, ‘I am an animal.’  The only thought that drives you on is to be alive at the end of the day, and to be a man, or die fighting to prove you are a man.  That’s the code of the warrior.”

Patch:  What impact do you feel your film will have on people?

Glick:  We want the film to change lives.  It unquestionably has the ability to do that.

Patch:  How difficult has it been to make this film?

Glick: I’ve reached out to probably 500 people in the past six months -- literary people, youth culture, people who raise money for Hispanic causes and prison reform.

I recruited a producer, David Grubin, who’s won 10 Emmys for his documentary work.  (Grubin directed “Downtown Express,” a film shown at the Montclair Film Festival this year.)

Patch:  How much money does it cost to make a documentary like this?

Glick:  It will cost $100,000 by the time we’re done.

Patch:  How do you raise so much money?

Glick: I’ve put in put in my own time and money, about $20,000.  Dave put in his own time and money.  And a lot of private donations.

We’re running a $50,000 Kickstarter.com campaign that ends July 31.  We’ve raised $21,000 but if we don’t raise the whole amount we lose everything.

There are Kickstarter rewards: for $25 you get a free copy of the movie.  For $2,500 we’ll make you a 2-3 minute documentary on any topic.    

Patch:  What are your plans for distribution?

Glick: We’ll submit to film festivals, universities, broadcasters like HBO and PBS.  There will be limited theatrical releases in New York, Arizona and New Mexico. 

We’ll also give copies to schools, prisons, detention centers, homeless shelters and programs for At-Risk youth.

Patch:  Have you made any other films before A Place to Stand?

Glick:  Yes, a mockumentary about a politician running for the Senate in New Jersey.  We went around in Bloomfield and Montclair and campaigned Borat-style.  People took it really seriously.  You can see it on YouTube: “Portrait of a Whig.”

Patch:  What do you see happening with your new film? 

Glick: Film is my way of trying to enact some kind of change, even on a micro level. 

It’s a challenge.  Obviously there’s a lot of freedom -- but without a lot of experience and connections . . . well, I have to prove myself.

 

A Place to Stand, a documentary based on the best-selling memoir by poet Jimmy Santiago Baca, is produced by Catamount Films LLC, and sponsored by The Center for Southwest Culture.  Director/Producer Daniel Glick, Producer David Grubin.

For more information go to:
www.aplacetostandmovie.com

To contact Daniel Glick: daniel@aplacetostandmovie.com

862-215-9990

 

To make a tax-deductible donation go to: http://kck.st/NsBX8g

The Center for Southwest Culture

500 Cooper Avenue NW 

Suite 103

Alburquerque, NM 87102

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