Lifers: Reaching for Life Beyond the Walls

(“Lifers—Shushinkei o koete”)
Director: SAKAGAMI Kaori

2004 English, Japanese Subtitled in - Color Video 91 min

Camera: MINAMI Yukio
Sound Engineer: MORI Eiji
Music Score: Roger Scott CRAIG
Narrator: Maya MOORE
Presented by out of frame
  Contact Name: SAKAGAMI Kaori
E-mail: yodie@jcom.home.ne.jp
URL: www.cain-j.org/Lifers/

[Festivals and prizes] Best Foreign Documentary, New York Independent Film Festival 2004, One World Human Rights Film Festival, Japan Catholic Film Prize

[Synopsis] Former TV director Sakagami allows viewers a look into American prisons, where inmates and counselors face their crimes and its reasons. Inmates are part of an in-prison rehabilitation program called AMITY, where ex-offenders help inmates who are sometimes serving time for life (“lifers”) in coming to terms with their lives.


Born in 1965 in Osaka, Japan. Has lived, studied and worked overseas including US, Colombia, Chile and Peru for years. As a former TV documentary director, she won many awards including Japan’s Ministry of Cultural Affairs’ Annual National Arts Awards in 1996 and Best TV Documentary of Galaxy TV Program Awards in 1997. LIFERS is her first independent documentary project with theatrical release.
Amongst her past TV productions, four documentary videos—Miller on Monsters, Coming out of Shattered Childhood, Journey of Hope: Seeking An Alternative to the Death Penalty, and Facing the Victims—have been translated into various languages and broadcasted overseas. All four deal with issues of crime and rehabilitation and take a deep look at causes of their wrong-doing. They also introduce innovative approaches based on humanistic philosophies.
Currently teaches Media Studies at Department of Cultural Anthropology in Kyoto Bunkyo University. She is also known as a journalist who has published numerous non-fictional books and magazine articles on criminal justice issues.