College Behind Bars

Film phase:Completed


College Behind Bars tells the untold story of a small group of incarcerated men and women in New York State struggling to turn their lives around in a rigorous and highly effective liberal arts college degree program – the Bard Prison Initiative (BPI). Through their stories, the film will shine a light on the fundamental relationship between incarceration and education, put a human face on America’s criminal justice crisis, and challenge conventional wisdom about the human potential for emotional, moral, and intellectual transformation. The film will raise questions that our society urgently needs to address: What is prison for? Who has access to educational opportunity? Who among us is capable of academic excellence?


Lynn Novick smiling and looking at the camera. She has dark hair and wears a dark shirt with a white tank underneath and a necklace. Black and white portrait.Lynn Novick has been making documentaries about American history for nearly twenty-five years. A director and producer, she has been a principal collaborator of Ken Burns since the early 1990s. Together they have been responsible for more than 60 hours of programming, some of the most critically acclaimed and top-rated documentary films and series that have aired on PBS, including Prohibition, The Tenth Inning, and The War.  In 1998, Novick was director and producer (with Burns) of the two-part biographical documentary Frank Lloyd Wright, for which she received a Peabody Award. The film was shown at the Sundance, Telluride, Edinburgh and Seattle Film Festivals.

Currently, Novick is directing and producing — with Burns — The Vietnam War, a 14-16 hour series about the history and meaning of the conflict, airing in 2017, and Ernest Hemingway, a two-part biography of the writer slated for broadcast in 2019. A magna cum laude graduate of Yale with honors in American Studies, she lives in New York City.