Tre Maison Dasan
An intimate portrait of three boys growing up, each with a parent in prison.
Directed by Denali Tiller
Produced by Denali Tiller, Rebecca Stern, Craig Pilligan
Writer: Denali Tiller
Editor: Carlos Rojas Felice
Cinematography: Jon Gourlay
Composer: Gil Talmi
Music: Tre Janson, Dasan Lopes, Maison Teixe
A Hello World Production in association with Chicken and Egg Pictures, Shine Global, Sustainable Films and Pilgrim Media Group
[Note: Strong language]
"A miracle of documentary empathy...if you work with children in any role at all - you need to watch this film." Nell Bernstein, author, 'All Alone in the World'
[Note: Community screenings of TRE MAISON DASAN can be booked at Bullfrog Communities.]
TRE MAISON DASAN is an intimate portrait of three boys growing up, each with a parent in prison. Directly told through the child's perspective, the film is an exploration of relationships and separation, masculinity, and coming of age in America when a parent is behind bars.
Tre, Maison and Dasan are three very different boys. Tre is a spirited 13-year-old who hides his emotions behind a mask of tough talk and hard edges. Maison is a bright eyed 11 year old with an encyclopedic mind and deep love for those around him. Dasan is a sensitive 6 year old with an incredible capacity for empathy and curiosity.
Their parents are not incarcerated for the low-level offenses that have become infamous in conversations around mass incarceration, but their histories and relationships beg many questions about justice and the lasting and rippling effects of a system at large.
Grade Level: 8 - 12, College, Adults
US Release Date: 2020
Copyright Date: 2018
DVD ISBN: 1-948745-44-5
"This is an exceptional film that on its surface tells of the harmful effects that result from parental incarceration. However, at a deeper level, the film exposes the larger problem of mass incarceration and the racist structures that perpetuate and maintain the oppression of people of color in this country. An emotional and heartbreaking entry point to understanding how our systems have been designed to maintain inequality."
Alan Dettlaff, Dean, Graduate College of Social Work, University of Houston
"Powerful and gripping...By centering the voices of these young people, the film brings to life elements of humanity often overlooked when considering the very real impact of parental incarceration. As you witness each child navigate and confront unfamiliar life circumstances, you will feel the intensity of their pain and anger, understand the source of their confusion and conflict, and celebrate their joy and excitement. This documentary is a compelling chronicle of the unheard voices of the children left behind."
Shenique S. Thomas, PhD, Assistant Professor, Criminal Justice Program, CUNY - Borough of Manhattan Community College
"Heart-rending...Fascinating and deeply touching...A remarkable film, powerful in its emotional content and profound in its criticism of a system that sets the next generation up for failure...Nonfiction filmmaking doesn't get much better than this."
Christopher Llewellyn Reed, Hammer to Nail
"Engrossing...Potent, sometimes wrenchingly intimate...This feature directorial debut is an excellent non-fiction drama."
Dennis Harvey, Variety
"Powerful, incredibly moving...The stories of three boys of varying ages and races reveal intimate, painful conversations with their incarcerated fathers or formerly incarcerated mother. These children have remained largely invisible, as they face numerous, everyday challenges that most of us cannot fathom. This film serves as an excellent resource for educators and community organizers alike who bring these challenges to light as they seek to advocate for the youngest victims of mass incarceration."
Sandra Joy, Professor of Sociology, Director of Youth Empowerment Program, Rowan University
"Beautiful film...An excellent addition to any education, nursing, public health, public policy, or social work curriculum. Through the eyes of the namesake children, we feel the pain of incarceration-related parental separation and stigma. We hear Tre's father aptly say 'This isn't normal, man' during their visits, and yet parental incarceration has become the norm for millions of American children. The film will help prepare students to support affected families. It will also encourage dialogue on systems-level changes that will better serve families and communities than our current over-reliance on incarceration."
Laurie Goshin, Associate Professor of Nursing, Hunter College - CUNY
"Gripping...Offers a fresh and heartrending perspective...This picture opens our eyes to a social disruption that has been underexposed and that we all ignore at our peril."
Stephen Farber, Hollywood Reporter
"Poignant...The significance of maintaining the attachment relationship via prison visits and telephone calls was realistically and heartbreakingly apparent throughout the film. Tre Maison Dasan allows one to see incarceration through the eyes of children, incarcerated parents, and loving grandparents who often provide care when their sons and daughters are incarcerated. The film left me wondering what will happen to Tre? My hope is that he will be provided with the opportunity to maximize his potential and realize his true worth."
Dr. Marian S. Harris, Professor of Social Work, University of Washington-Tacoma
"Presents a vivid portrayal of the collateral consequences of mass incarceration. In telling the story of three boys impacted by parental incarceration, the film provides valuable perspective for anyone working in, or wanting to work in, the criminal justice field."
Dr. Danielle Rousseau, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice, Boston University
"Gives a raw, in-depth look at the experiences of children with incarcerated parents. This documentary is a must-see to understand the extensive impacts of mass incarceration."
Breanna Boppre, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice, Wichita State University
"Capture[s] some deeply emotional moments."
Andy Smith, Providence Journal
"This is not a 'homeless to Harvard' story, it's about more typical children who are living with a tremendous stigma and whose futures may not be bright. And the story may be a more common occurrence than many of us would believe."
Paul Parcellin, Film Threat
"Engrossing and illuminating."
Jay Seaver, eFilmCritic
"A miracle of documentary empathy, shot as if each of the three young protagonists - all struggling with parental incarceration - had a camera embedded behind his eyes. The film doesn't preach about mass incarceration, but it's impossible to watch these children suffer and struggle and love and not ask oneself if their pain is necessary for our collective safety. If you work with children affected by parental incarceration - and if you work with children in any role at all - you need to watch this film."
Nell Bernstein, Author, All Alone in the World: Children of the Incarcerated and Burning Down the House: The End of Juvenile Prison
"Highly Recommended...The filmmakers explore tough questions...Even in the confines of cinder block walls and among a sea of khaki jumpsuits, we are reminded that imprisoned people and their children experience a range of human emotions including remorse, disappointment, redemption, as well as joy...An excellent addition to the curriculum in high school social studies courses. At the college level, it would be most appropriate for social work, human development and family studies, psychology, criminal justice, and related courses."
Stephanie A. Diaz, Penn State-Behrend, Educational Media Reviews Online
"Exceptional work...Despite past mistakes, all three parents are completely devoted to their children, and scenes between parent and child are both heartwarming and heartbreaking...[This] outstanding program informs us that 1 in 14 kids in the U.S. have a parent in prison...Highly recommended viewing to further discussions on social justice issues, parenting, and childhood coping."
Sue-Ellen Beauregard, Booklist
|DVDs include public performance rights.
DVD includes SDH captions for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
Host a community screening
The Film's Website
Excellent 27-page Classroom Viewing Guide
Excellent 17-page Viewing Guide: Incarcerated and Re-Entry Groups
Awards and Festivals
San Francisco International Film Festival
Big Sky Documentary Film Festival
Raindance International Film Festival
Cleveland International Film Festival
Santa Fe Film Festival
Boston International Film Festival
Heartland International Film Festival
Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival
Montclair Film Festival
Rhode Island International Film Festival
Louisville International Festival of Film
Ridgefield Independent Film Festival
Cucalorus Film Festival
Olympia Film Festival for Children and Young People
Providence Children's Film Festival
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"Institutions and collections spotlighting social work should definitely add the title to their shelves as a learning tool, while general collections will find it a worthy real-life drama...4 out of 5 stars."
Charles Cassady, Video Librarian
"Tre Maison Dasan is a great example of what the experience of parental incarceration is like from the viewpoint of children...We witness the cycle of intergenerational crime, externalizing behaviors, and the impact of neurodiversity...One out of every fourteen children in the United States has an incarcerated parent...Our classrooms are no different. There will be students who see themselves in the stories of Tre Maison Dasan...and teachers need to be prepared for the emotional reactions that may result from a screening."
Sarah R. Lazzari, Heidelberg University, Films for the Feminist Classroom