International production company Park Pictures’ Sundance Audience Award-winning documentary on the devastating effects of mandatory minimum sentencing policies, The Sentence, premieres on HBO today, October 15 at 8:00 PM PT. The documentary, directed by the award-winning filmmaker Rudy Valdez (The Last Patrol, Remembering the Artist), is also available at 5:00PM PT on HBO Now and HBO Go.

Valdez tells the heart-wrenching story of his sister Cindy Shank, a mother of three who was convicted to a shattering minimum of 15 years in prison on charges related to crimes committed by her ex-boyfriend. Valdez began to record video of his sister’s growing children to share with her at the start of her sentence, in an attempt to keep the divided family as connected as possible, which quickly swelled into a greater search for answers on the controversial policy.

The footage–developed into a documentary that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival 2018–exposes the unjust nature of mandatory minimum sentencing and gives audiences a searing glimpse into the crushing effects these strung-out sentences have on prisoners, their families and society.

Crowds at The Sentence’s Sundance premiere were seen sobbing at the grief-inspiring situation depicted in the film.


The Sentence, Rudy Valdez, Park Pictures, HBO

The Sentence, photo courtesy IMDB


Produced by Park Pictures’ Jackie Kelman Bisbee, Sam Bisbee and co-producers Geeta Gandbhir and April Hayes, and executive produced by Wendy Neu, Park Pictures director Lance Acord and Park Pictures’ Theodora Dunlap, The Sentence garnered swift audience approval and news buzz. In addition to winning the coveted Audience Award, the film was nominated for the Sundance Grand Jury Prize, and earned in its festival run the Sarasota Film Festival Jury Prize and Montclair Film Festival Audience Award. The documentary additionally gripped the attention of influential viewers, with reviews and interviews in the New York Times, on The View, Variety, Hollywood Reporter and more.

In July, Valdez, Jackie Bisbee, Sam Bisbee and others sat with Senator Mike Lee in Washington, D.C. to discuss the film and ensuing policy discussions. HBO purchased the rights to The Sentence in January and announced the premiere screening in August.


Click here for more premiere information on HBO.