LA Weekly Review
From LA Weekly
Here’s a true surprise in 2018: a documentary about an American injustice that will likely leave you, by its end, blubbering tears of relieved joy. Rudy Valdez’s deeply personal The Sentence takes a close-up, decade-long look at the cruel impact of inflexible mandatory-minimum criminal sentencing on one American family. Cindy Shank, Valdez’s sister and the mother of three young daughters, received a 15-year sentence as a co-conspirator in drug crimes she had nothing to do with — she lived in an apartment with the actual criminal. Valdez shot from 2008 on, tracking the girls’ motherless childhood, the many trips they took with their father and other relatives for visits to federal prison, the Christmas presents Mom knit and sent from jail, the everyday methods of coping the family developed. Sometimes when Shank calls home, she asks simply to listen, on speakerphone, to what she’s missing.