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The Cooler Bandits Screening and Discussion at Columbia University on February 26

Followed by what promises to be an amazing discussion between filmmakers and subjects alike, John Lucas’s documentary The Cooler Bandits will be screened Thursday, February 26 in New York at Columbia University. The event is free and open to the public.

For Filmmaker, Alix Lambert wrote about the film and talked to Lucas while The Cooler Bandits was in post-production. An excerpt:

The Cooler Bandits is the film’s title as well as the crew consisting of Charlie, Donovan, Frankie, and Poochie, who were all teenagers in 1991 when they spent the better part of the year robbing restaurants. Collectively they were sentenced to 500 years despite the fact that no one was hurt. In the years since filming began, Charlie, Donovan and Poochie have all been released and are struggling with the myriad difficulties of re-entering society after decades in prison. Where can you live? Who will give you a job? How will you adjust to the social, and emotional differences from the life you knew to the one you are now dropped into? And what about Frankie? He is the only one who remains incarcerated. He is not eligible for parole until 2035. Will he spend the rest of his life in prison? How does one prepare for that? These are all questions that the film addresses through the very intimate and sustained stories of these four men.

Along with director Lucas, producer Sam Pollard, editor Jason Pollard and filmmaker Jamal Joseph, a Columbia School of the Arts professor, appearing will be two of the “Cooler Bandits,” Donovan Harris and Richard Roderick. The film’s trailer is above, and complete information on the event is below.

The Heyman Center for the Humanities and the Center for Justice at Columbia present a film screening and discussion of the documentary film “The Cooler Bandits.”

Over twenty years ago, four men from the North Hill neighborhood of Akron, Ohio committed a series of restaurant robberies. During the robberies the men locked the restaurant employees in the walk-in coolers, gaining them the moniker “the Cooler Bandits.” Although no one was physically injured, the group received collective prison sentences of up to 500 years. From 2006-2013, director John Lucas follows the unfathomable journeys of Charlie Kelly, Donovan Harris, Richard “Poochie” Roderick, and Frankie Porter as they cope and survive despite the harsh realities of prison. “The Cooler Bandits” documents these men in their respective stages of incarceration as they fight to maintain relationships with family and friends, and reintegrate into society after spending their adult lives incarcerated.

The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with Lucas, along with two of “the Cooler Bandits,” Donovan Harris and Richard Roderick. Joining them will be the film’s producer and editor, Sam and Jason Pollard, respectively. The discussion will be moderated by Columbia School of the Arts Professor Jamal Joseph: director, writer, producer, and author of Panther Baby (Algonquin Books).

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