“I just want to make the announcement that for $1 I will be signing autographs!” announced Dasan Lopes following the Q&A for the film Tre Maison Dasan directed by Denali Tiller.

newportFILM partnered with Star Kids Scholarship Program of Newport/Fall River to show Tre Maison Dasan in the Casino Theater on March 27, 2019.  Tre Maison Dasan invites viewers into the lives of 3 boys—Tre, Maison, and Dasan—growing up while a parent is in prison.  The film is intimately linked with Rhode Island, as all three boys live in Rhode Island and director, Denali Tiller, attended RISD.  The film explores the themes of separation, masculinity, and development in America when a parent is behind bars.

Denali latched onto the idea of creating a film to understand parent-child relationships during parental incarceration after meeting Joyce Dixson-Haskett.  Joyce had personally experienced extended incarceration while being a mother.  After 17 years in prison, she was released and went on to pursue a master’s degree in social work and develop a psychological model used to track stages of grief and trauma that children experience when a parent is incarcerated.  Rhode Island has since adopted the program she created.

Following the film, Denali Tiller and film subjects Dasan Lopes and his mother Stephanie Moniz, who had been released from prison and reunited with her son at the beginning of the film, took the stage to answer a few questions posed by Star Kids Scholarship Program founder Dr. Timothy Flanigan.  The Q&A was both delightfully heartwarming with Dasan’s coy yet energetic humor and earnestly insightful with Denali’s thoughtful responses about why she credits the 3 boys as both the film subjects and filmmakers.  Stephanie Moniz took a moment to show the audience the children’s book she wrote and illustrated for her son while incarcerated.  The book is titled Resilient Mr. Ball and tells the story of a ball that bounces back no matter what.  It can be purchased on Amazon.  She was met by overwhelming support and interaction from the audience.

In the end, Dasan had quite the line of film attendees waiting to acquire his signature, and he proudly displayed his newfound collection of $1 bills to his mom.

newportFILM first screened Tre Maison Dasan in March at the Casino Theater, it is now available to watch on PBS on Demand.

Written by: Megan Parham, newportFILM Spring 2019 Intern