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How We Get Free

Directors

Geeta Gandbhir, Samantha Knowles

Executive Producers

Nicholas Kulish, Sam Dolnick, Anya Rous

Producers

Kathleen Lingo, Sweta Vohra, Jess Devaney

Editors

Rabab Haj Yahya

Cinematographers

Julia Liu

Inspired by a New York Times article, How We Get Free follows the intrepid Elisabeth Epps over the course of two years as she works to abolish cash bail in Colorado and put an end to the criminalization of poverty. Epps is the founder and leader of the Colorado Freedom Fund, one of nearly 100 community bail funds around the country that help incarcerated people who can’t afford their bail before trial. For Epps, this work is personal – she spent time in jail herself, bearing witness to the conditions she is so desperate to change. The film opens in the fall of 2020 as she drives around Denver with thousands of dollars of cashiers checks in hand, bailing people out of jail (or as Epps says, “paying ransom”), and sparring with the local Sheriff about the future of policing. But after years of grassroots activism, and on the heels of the 2020 racial reckoning, Epps is confronting a new challenge: calls from her community to run for State Representative.

HowWeGetFree_S.Knowles

Samantha Knowles

Co-Director, How We Get Free

Samantha (Sam) Knowles is an award-winning Brooklyn-based filmmaker. Most recently she won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Directing in a Documentary Series, and the Gracie Award for Best Director of a National TV Program for the HBO docuseries Black and Missing, which brings attention to black and missing persons cases that are routinely neglected by the police and the media. The series also won the Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary Series, a Television Academy Honors Award, an AAFCA TV Award for Best Documentary, and was nominated for a Black Reel Award for Outstanding Documentary. In 2021, she partnered with Hewlett – Packard to direct Generation Impact: The Coder, which was featured in the inaugural “Brand Storytelling” event at Sundance Film Festival. In 2018, she directed The Blue Line which examined the controversy that erupted when a small town painted a blue line on the street in support of police in the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement. It premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, was featured in NBC’s “Meet The Press” Film Festival, and is now part of the prestigious New York Times Op-Doc series. Samantha also directed and produced the award-winning short documentary Why Do You Have Black Dolls? which is inspired by a question asked of an 8-year-old girl and examines the history and significance of the black doll.

HowWeGetFree_G.Gandbhir

Geeta Gandbhir

Co-Director, How We Get Free

Geeta Gandbhir is an award-winning director, producer, and editor. As a director, she won Best Documentary at the News and Doc Emmys for I Am Evidence, an HBO Documentary Film, and Best Government and Politics Documentary for Armed with Faith, a PBS Documentary film. As an editor, she won a Primetime Emmy for Best Editing for Spike Lee’s HBO documentary series When the Levees Broke and also for the HBO film By the People, The Election of Barack Obama. A documentary film she co-produced, The Sentence, for HBO, also won a Special Jury Primetime Emmy. In 2019 she directed the series Why We Hate with Amblin Entertainment and Jigsaw Productions for Discovery. Other award-winning feature docs she co-directed include Prison Dogs which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, and A Journey of a Thousand Miles: Peacekeepers which premiered at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival and aired on PBS. She created and is co-directing and co-producing a series on race with The New York Times Op-Docs titled The Conversation which won the AFI Documentary Film Festival and a MacArthur Grant. She also co-directed and edited the film, Remembering the Artist: Robert De Niro Sr. with Perri Peltz for HBO which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2014. She has been the recipient of a Ford Foundation grant, and a MacArthur Grant, among others, and in 2017, she was the recipient of Chicken & Egg Pictures’ Chicken & Egg Award.