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Love prevails in documentary ‘Time’

Film brings long term costs of incarceration into focus

Colette Greenstein
Colette Greenstein
Colette Greenstein has been a contributing arts & entertainment writer for the Banner since 2009. VIEW BIO
Love prevails in documentary ‘Time’
Fox Rich and Rob G. Rich in “Time. COURTESY OF AMAZON STUDIOS

Director Garrett Bradley (“Alone” and “America”) has created a remarkable documentary with “Time,” a moving tribute to the power of love between Sibil Fox Richardson and Robert G. Richardson (known as “Fox Rich” and “Rob”).

Newly married high school sweethearts in 1997, a momentary decision to rob a bank landed both of them in jail. Fox Rich served three-and-a-half years, while Rob, who was 28 at the time, was sentenced to 60 years in prison. When Fox emerged, she began a 21-year campaign to have Rob released from the Louisiana State Penitentiary, while also raising their six sons.

Fox Rich (Then and Now). COURTESY OF AMAZON STUDIOS

Fox Rich (Then and Now). COURTESY OF AMAZON STUDIOS

“Time,” at its essence, is a love story. It’s about the love between the couple and the love for their sons and family. “I think love was all we wanted to recognize in the documentary,” says Fox in a call with the Banner. “The everlasting image of love, Black love, pure love, unconditional love, unrelenting love.”

That love is on full display through the film in the home video footage taken by Fox over the years to celebrate anniversaries, birthdays and graduations, through phone conversations between Rob and his sons, and through tender moments when Fox is cutting her sons’ hair.

She says she hoped that the video archive would serve to “bring Rob in and hold onto him as much as I could … and document it for him and put him in space and time with us.”

Despite Rob not being physically in the home with his sons, he made every effort to be an active parent. He recalled that early on in his incarceration he read a magazine article that stated that the average amount of time a father spends with his child on a month-to-month basis was less than eight hours.

COURTESY OF AMAZON STUDIOS

COURTESY OF AMAZON STUDIOS

“I realized that from a couple of visits, if we get there early enough and we stay until the visits are over, I’m able to get far more time engaged with my children than the average man was able to do on the street,” says Rob. “When I realized that was the case, I realized how effective I could be as a father even from prison.”

The film weaves the past with present-day footage to provide a uniquely intimate perspective into the long-term costs of incarceration: the children who grow up without fathers, and the mothers who are forced to become caregivers and legal experts all at once.

Over the course of her 21-year battle to have Rob released from prison, Fox’s efforts included filing appeals, making phone calls, giving lectures and making bimonthly visits to the Louisiana State Penitentiary. She also served as a vocal advocate for other families broken up by incarceration. In her very public quest to have her husband released, she describes feeling that at “every minute, every second I was walking on eggshells.”

In reflecting on their lives, the couple says love has been their constant source of strength. And if love were an acronym, Rob would describe it as “Life’s Only Valid Expression.”

From Amazon Studios, “Time” will open at Landmark Kendall on Friday, Oct. 9 and worldwide on Amazon Prime Video on Oct. 16.

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