There are people in communities around the world that work quietly to make a loud impact. They are diligent, committed, focused, passionate, and will-not-be-deterred kinds of people. This is Gilda Sheppard. For decades Gilda has been diligently making and sharing stories through the art of film. She has focused a lot on the stories of women, but last year, Gilda completed her seminal work, Since I Been Down, to film festival acclaim around the world.
Since I Been Down is a film that centers on the resilience and leadership displayed by the primary subject Kimonti, who founded TEACH (Taking Education and Creating History), a remarkably innovative prisoner education program. As noted on the website, “Kimonti and his peers maneuver through a non-negotiable pathway to joining gangs as early as 11 years old. Since I Been Down is told by the people who have lived the conditions of profound disinvestment in housing, education, and employment."
Gilda Sheppard is a force! Or we should say, Dr. Sheppard, as she holds a Ph.D. in Sociology/Cultural and Media Studies. What Gilda brings to her work is expertise, experience, and deep interactions with all of her communities – from academic to environmental and including cultural communities. Though this is not her first film, Dr. Sheppard has brought a new lens to the pressing issues of education and organizing within the prison system. For more than a decade she has taught college-level courses for incarcerated men and women and has earned a high level of trust and respect among those whose stories she tells.
"I don't think anyone can see this film without recognizing the deep humanity in everyone….And if you are talking about transformative justice, and focusing on the potential that people have to transform themselves and the world outside of them -- look at these sisters and brothers!” - Angela Davis, Distinguished Professor Emerita, University of CA, Santa Cruz
Get to know Dr. Gilda Sheppard and check out the trailer for Since I Been Down - a film that elegantly and respectfully lifts up these personal stories of community and resilience.