More than 100 students from 35 colleges across the U.S. were represented at Hendrix College’s Vocation and Film Conference in February, an event sponsored by the Hendrix-Lilly Vocations Initiative.
Hendrix alumna and filmmaker Sheri Bylander ’85 presented her documentary Homestretch, a film that tells the story of progressive politicians and prisons in New York, Oregon and Kentucky that have established prison programs to care for former racehorses. Instead of being sent to slaughterhouses or ending careers in punishing two-bit racing circuits, these poor-earning and end-of-career racehorses are instead sent to prison-owned farms where end-of-term prisoners earn the privilege of caring for the animals.
Bylander’s film also delves into the effects of human incarceration and ultimately shows how the peaceful surroundings of the prison farms help both the inmates and horses to let go of the past and discover new sides of themselves.
The film’s tagline is: “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.” It is due to be released publicly later this year.
Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, directors of the Academy Award-nominated documentary Jesus Camp, also highlighted the conference. Their film follows a group of young children to Pastor Becky Fischer’s "Kids on Fire" summer camp, where kids are taught to become dedicated Christians in God’s army and are schooled to take back America for Christ. The film is a first-ever look into a camp that recruits born-again Christian children to become an active part of America’s political future.
Ewing and Grady then led a discussion and answered questions following the film. Additionally, a panel discussion about the film titled “Jesus Camp and the Vocation of Faith Communities” included Hendrix professors Aaron Simmons (philosophy), Rod Miller (art) and Elizabeth Bridges (German), and University of Central Arkansas professor Lori Isom (chemistry).