ACADEMY AWARDS: Iowa Documentary Nominated

Only 20 films have been filmed in Iowa, add one more to the list.

Independent film maker Edgar Barens was nominated for an Oscar for his new film. His short documentary, Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall was filmed in Fort Madison.

“I chose the Fort Madison prison because they just implemented a prison hospice program and it was innovated in the sense that they trained prisoners to be hospice volunteers,” Barens said.

Barens spent six months living inside the prison’s hospice facility capturing the last days of an inmate who was sentenced to life.

“They basically gave me 24/7 access to a maximum security prison. The entire prison, not just the infirmary, so it was unbelievable,” Barens said.

In true Iowa fashion, the prison was generous enough to allow cameras inside for an extended period of time. A first in the prison’s history.

“To have them bend over backwards to really let me into the prison and film anything and everything I wanted, within reason, was a dream come true,” Barens said.

Executive Producer of Produce Iowa Liz Gilman said Iowan hospitality will help the Iowa production industry grow.

The industry hit rock bottom four years ago after a financial scandal. Now, Gilman says the documentary could attract more filmmakers to the state.

“What we’re doing right now is assessing what we want done in our state and what kind of quality we want to attract to film making here,” Gilman said.

The documentary lost the category to The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life. Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall, will premiere on HBO on March 31st.

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