On September 16, 1997, two desperate people did a desperate thing. Sibil ‘Fox’ Richardson and her husband Robert were out of money. Two budding retailers, who had just opened Shreveport’s first hip-hop clothing store, both trying raising a family of four children with more on the way, were out of money. -Their solution? -An armed robbery of the local credit union. -The result? Sibil got 12 years in jail, but with a plea deal, was out in three. Robert got more. Much more… he got 60 years. 60 years without any parole or pardon ever.
Peperpetrators now made victims of America’s industrialised prison policy towards people of colour, Time is a documentary about Sybil’s fight to reunite her family against what seems insurmountable odds.
Time is a staunch refusal to accept a skewed future...
Shot in unapologetic black and white, Time is almost a companion piece to director Ava DuVernay’s 13th. Whereas DuVernay’s documentary deconstructed the endemic racism of an entire criminal justice system skewed against people of colour, Time is the unbearable magnification of its consequences.
As Robert’s mother, Mahlik says herself in the film “right don’t come to you, doing wrong” and as both Sybil and her family fully acknowledge, theirs was a crime. It was punishable and no one is trying to diminish that fact – but as the film dives deeper into their lives, the scale of the punishment becomes a clear, intentional blight upon the futures of those left behind.
Where an entire generation of men and women are now locked up for the entirety of their lives, it becomes clear that a generational tragedy is unfolding in realtime, and despite Time‘s 81 minute running time, this makes for a slow movie. Moving back and forth between Sybil’s crumbly home video diaries and the buttery precision of interviews conducted in the present, Time‘s detail will make you invest more, the longer it goes on.
A film of unique resilience and of the fortitude of character, it is Sybil who grows into a force that will not be bowed by what has been bestowed upon her. Unwilling to go quietly into a prescribed night of defeat, her videos quietly rage with a refusal to let either her family be ground down or her husband not be a part of their future.
Tainted by the fact that their father is behind bars, Sybil’s young children eventually grow into men over the elapsing years, and in all their personal successes and setbacks, their father’s absence is felt at every moment. Understanding that “in our society, image is everything”, Sybil has instilled in her children a sense of worth and as such are determined not to become targets. And yet with the continual breaking of Sybil’s heart as she is rebuffed and time and time and time again by the automaton-like voices at the end of the judge’s switchboard, it is this incessant tragedy that becomes the making of her family.
In a movie where “love” stands for Life’s Only Valid Expression, director Garret Bradley‘s Time is a movie that will tap into your beating heart with an exceptional tale of those caught in the blast radius of ongoing injustice. Kept in jail because it’s more profitable to its jailors, Time is a staunch refusal to accept a skewed future, and instead shows that indeed, “success can be the best revenge” – if you can stay the course.