The film takes viewers inside Louisiana’s maximum-security prison at Angola, where the average sentence is more than 90 years. The prisoners within its walls are the worst of the worst – rapists, kidnappers and murderers. With prison sentences so long, 85 percent will never again live in the outside world. Instead, the will grow old and die in Angola.
Serving Life documents an extraordinary hospice program where hardened criminals care for their dying fellow inmates. In doing so, they embark on a journey that may end in personal rehabilitation. “Serving Life reveals the humanity that exists inside each and every one of us,” said Whitaker. “In the Angola prison’s hospice, we meet inmates who decide to take an opportunity for redemption, reminding us of the connection that exists between each and every human being.” The volunteers are trained, pushed and tested. Some fail, but some succeed and discover that the human touch can reach the soul. “I thought maybe if I helped somebody else,” one inmate says, “that would help relieve some of the guilt.”
Audience response to Serving Life has been overwhelming. The documentary has now won over 10 awards, including the CINE Master Series Award and the Humanitas Prize.