After Now; A Reflection of Life After Incarceration

Event Recap of After Now: Navigating Life After Prison, 2/20/18

“I learned a word in school, euphoric. That’s what this is. Euphoric.”

These powerful words were shared in the film After Now by documentary participant Earl Neal, who was describing the experience of leaving prison. After Now (2018) captures the joys and challenges of navigating life after prison, and the ways that incarceration touches us all. Following three people, and their families, for a one-year cycle, the film captures everyday life in New York City and the complexities of what it’s like to transition from prison back into society. 

On February 20, 2018, the NYU Center for the Humanities hosted the premiere screening of the film, along with a talk-back with the documentary participants and creators, with the NYU Prison Education Program.

Weaving intimate portraits of work, family, and neighborhoods, the film walks us through Earl’s first day out of prison; captures Carlos’s relationship with his wife and three sons, after nearly 13 years away; and follows Joshua as he moves forward from his past. Nikhil Singh (Faculty Director, NYU Prison Education Program) said the film “tries to be extremely true” in following the lives of people post-incarceration, and Earl Neal echoed that, telling the audience they “witnessed a reflection of every man that comes out” of prison.

After a showing of the film, three participants answered questions from the audience, discussing their experiences in the Prison Education program. Joshua, now a current student at Gallatin said “It was the first time someone said yes, you can do something with that mind of yours.” The participants emphasized that their professors “didn’t dumb down” the curriculum, that the filmmakers “treated us like a family and not a project,” and they discussed the difficulties of reintegrating into society after their release. Carlos said “talking to you [the filmmakers] gave me hope to move forward.”