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The Independent Critic

Vilma Ortiz Donovan; Kenneth Harrigan; Casimiro Torres; Angel Ramos
Philip Messina
74 Mins.
Winner Pictures


 "Released" a Revealing Documentary 
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Fresh off its world premiere at New York's Quad Cinema on May 10th, Released is based on the original theatrical production of "The Castle" and is both a difficult film to watch and an exhilarating one.

Released centers around the stories of four human beings who are also ex-cons, three men and a woman:

Casimiro Torres grew up in Hell's Kitchen and before he was out of his teens had experienced just about every kind of abuse imaginable for a child to endure including by the staff inside juvenile facilities. He was addicted to drugs by the age of 10 and ended up being arrested 67 times and serving 16 years in prison.

Vilma Ortiz was a remarkably intelligent young woman from a solid Puerto Rican family. She became addicted to cocaine and eventually moved into dealing, a rare female growing in a powerful leadership role in a male-dominated fraternity. She was eventually arrested and served six years.

Kenneth Harrigan was an "A" student from an African-American family. He started off using recreational drugs, became addicted to Crack and would end up serving 16 years in jail.

Angel Ramos grew up in a brutally poor environment with his mother. At the age of 17, a friend made an off-handed remark that offended him and in a violent rage he killed the friend. He served 30 years for his crime.

The recidivism rate among ex-cons is said to be that 2 out of 3 return within three years. A program called "The Castle," a 62-bed re-entry facility run by former prisoners and located in New York City. Released is powerful because it's an honest and authentic yet hopeful film that shares the testimonies of these four individuals and their steadfast commitment to doing whatever it takes to stay out of prison and to get their lives on track. The four originally worked with Broadway producer and "The Castle" founder David Rothenberg as a self-awareness project. It grew into an off-Broadway stage play that has been seen by thousands, and now into a deeply moving and thought-provoking film that will unquestionably inspire you.

© Written by Richard Propes 
The Independent Critic