'The Work' Trailer: A Look At One Of The Year's Most Acclaimed And Intense Documentaries

Nearly 20 years ago, a program started inside Folsom Prison where some of California's most hardened convicts would invite members of the public to join them in group therapy sessions. The new documentary The Work examines a recent edition of this program, and an intense new trailer reveals what happened. Watch The Work trailer below.

Critics and audiences who saw The World at SXSW raved about the Jairus McLeary and Gethin Aldous-directed documentary. "Anyone struggling to find empathy or common ground with people unlike themselves should watch this film as required viewing," said Film Threat. "A compelling emotional display, one that captures masculinity at its most innocent and leads to profound displays of compassion," proclaimed RogerEbert.com.

The Work trailer

Filmmakers McLeary and Aldous were given access to film what many of us in the outside world have no knowledge of, and they appear to have captured a truly intense, emotional journey. The trailer for The Work unfolds with an ever-mounting sense of both dread and pathos, hinting at one of the most unique films of the year. Here's the official synopsis.

Set inside a single room in Folsom Prison, "The Work" follows three men from outside as they participate in a four-day group therapy retreat with level-four convicts. Over the four days, each man in the room takes his turn at delving deep into his past. The raw and revealing process that the incarcerated men undertake exceeds the expectations of the free men, ripping them out of their comfort zones and forcing them to see themselves and the prisoners in unexpected ways. "The Work" offers a powerful and rare look past the cinder block walls, steel doors and the dehumanizing tropes in our culture to reveal a movement of change and redemption that transcends what we think of as rehabilitation.

Co-director McLeary told AFI that preparation for the film alone was intense, saying the film's crew "needed to attend at least one four-day event and get a layout of the location, get to know the men in blue themselves and most importantly do some of their own personal work to gain a sensitivity that would not disturb the very thing we were hoping to capture. Only afterwards, would they give us their trust and consent." McLeary also described what he most hoped audiences would take away from the film:

It's my hope that the viewer will grasp the the risks that the convicts who participate in this kind of group therapy are taking to change. The work they do together in their circles could have life or death consequences out on the yard. That's how important this work is to them. But those who stick with the program to do this work by bring in other participants and the numbers are growing. Over time the number of convicts on the yard doing this work has grown a that such that it's had a positive net effect on the entire yard as the rate of violent incidences decrease. Change the environment and you change the system. and continued successful program participation could be very influential with parole boards. It could mean the difference between freedom and life imprisonment – whether they are released or not.

The Work opens in theaters on October 25, 2017 in Los Angeles and October 27, 2017 in New York City.