Director: Jahmil Eady
United States, 2022, 16 min
Cast:Ashley Wilkerson, Yolonda Ross, Kathryn Erbe, Jonathan Medina
Crew:Writer: Jahmil Eady. Producers: Jahmil Eady, Selena Leoni, Reina Higashitani. Cinematographer: Gionatan Tecle; Editor: Kristin Valentine, Zheyu Liang
Pregnant and incarcerated, Aria fights for her most precious connection against a system designed to isolate her.
About the director
Jahmil Eady was raised in New York City and Charleston, SC. She earned her B.A. in Media Studies from Pomona College and studied film at the Prague Film School in the Czech Republic.
She worked as an associate producer on documentary projects for Oprah Winfrey Network, Viceland, and Discovery Network. Since transitioning into narrative screenwriting and directing, Jahmil has continued to create socially-minded character-driven stories.
Jahmil's first short film, Heartland, a sci-fi examination of relationships in a technological world, has screened at over 30 film festivals including Santa Barbara International Film Festival, Austin Film Festival, St. Louis International Film Festival, and BlackStar Film Festival where it was nominated for the Starz Award for Best Speculative Fiction Short. Heartland won the Audience Choice Award at Indy Shorts International Film Festival, and Best Live Action Short at the Atlanta Sci-Fi Film Festival.
Her most recent film, The Bond, follows an incarcerated pregnant woman as she gives birth. It won Best Student Film at BronzeLens Film Festival, Best Producing at Urbanworld, a Jury Award at Bentonville Film Festival, and a Jury and Audience Award for Best Narrative Short at Atlanta Film Festival. The Bond was fiscally sponsored by Film Independent and raised over $26,000 on Kickstarter in just two weeks. Jahmil's awards include the 2022 Princess Grace Foundation Award, New York Times Award, and the Four Sisters Award from writer-directors Gina Prince-Bythewood, Sara Finney-Johnson, Felicia D. Henderson, and Mara Brock Akil.
Jahmil is currently completing her MFA in Directing at UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television.
This film is inspired by my mother’s experience giving birth to me while incarcerated. She tried to tell me her story when I was 16 years old, but I wasn’t ready. At 29 years old, I sought her out for an interview. I took notes and fumed with outrage as she recounted an officer’s callous words while taking me away. When my mother saw my anger, she said, “It was Christmas. The officer probably wanted to get home to her own family instead of watching me cry.” My mother’s empathy inspired me and served as a north star.
I quickly realized that I didn’t want to make a biographical short or retelling of her ordeal. I wanted to explore human connection and inject empathy into this isolating environment. In a way, I wanted to rewrite history.
I immersed myself in the world of birthing behind bars by reading news articles, anti-shackling bills, testimonies, and books by doctors who treated that population. When I was confident I could tell an authentic and nuanced story, I began writing. While this film highlights reproductive injustice and mass incarceration, The Bond is also about the transformative power of compassion. My message is that even in the most divisive atmosphere, bonds of empathy can bloom and uplift us.