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A Place to Stand

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Catalogue Number:  TVP001
Producer:  Video Project, Inc.
Producing Agencies:  Catamount Films LLC
Subject:  Criminal Justice & Law, Documentary, English, Guidance, Health, Psychology, Social Issues, Social Sciences, Sociology
Language:  English
Grade Level:  9 - 12, Post Secondary, Adult
Country Of Origin:  United States
Copyright Year:  2014
Running Time:  83:00

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A Place to Stand tells the story of acclaimed author Jimmy Santiago Baca’s transformation from a functionally illiterate convict to an award-winning poet, novelist and screenwriter. Based on the memoir of the same name, the film takes viewers into Baca's past and present to uncover how the power of the written word lifted him from the violence and pain that defined his early life.

With powerful revelations from family, friends, and fellow inmates, as well as insight into the early writings that first captured Baca's imagination, the film shows how he turned his life around. A Place to Stand follows Baca's path from childhood abandonment in Estancia, New Mexico, through adolescent drug dealing and a subsequent 5-year narcotics sentence at Arizona State Prison, one of the most violent prisons in the country.

Baca began his incarceration an angry and illiterate young man. Against the odds, he taught himself how to read and write, discovering a passion for poetry that gave him a means of understanding and expressing himself, and that ultimately saved his life. Writing poetry helped him to survive the brutal inhumanity of his incarceration, and eventually to heal the wounds of his childhood and open himself to a whole new future.

In the film, Baca reads some of his poetry while shots of the prison and the surrounding Arizona landscape pan across the screen. Baca’s poems provide a unique window to his mindset at the time as he channeled his frustrations and hopes to paper. Baca's extraordinary life is both inspiring and haunting, simultaneously an indictment of our current criminal justice system and a model of the potential for human transformation.


Illuminate Film Festival
Napa Valley Film Festival
Boulder INTL Film Festival
Sedona International Film Festival
Maui Film Festival
DOCUtah International Documentary Film Festival
Arizona International Film Festival
Albuquerque Film & Music Experience
SAFilm San Antonio Film Festival
Santa Fe Independent Film Festival

"Baca's harrowing story will stand among the world's most moving testimonies to the profound value of literature." -Booklist

"An inspiring portrait...tells the amazing story of Baca’s transformation from a violent convicted drug dealer into a sensitive bard, teacher, writer, and public speaker."
– Booklist

"Highly recommended. 
moving testament to the power of words, words that can heal the deepest hurt and unleash incredible creativity. An outstanding resource for a variety of courses – criminal justice, education, literature, psychology, and sociology.”
– Educational Media Reviews Online


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