The film “26.2. to Life” was announced as the Audience Award winner at the Hamptons Doc Fest. From left, Hamptons Doc Fest associate director Jackie Leopold, film participant Markelle Taylor, “26.2 to Life” director Christine Yoo, and HDF advisory board member and Academy Award-winning filmmaker Nigel Noble of East Hampton, whose film work Yoo admires. COURTESY HAMPTONS DOC FEST
Jacqui Lofaro, founder and executive director of Hamptons Doc Fest, which celebrated its 16th year, November 30 to December 6, with 30 screenings at the Sag Harbor Cinema and Bay Street Theater, has announced that the winner of the 2023 Brown Harris Stevens Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature is the inspirational film “26.2. to Life,” which electrified the audience when it played on December 4 at Bay Street.
“This was a film of hope and redemption,” said Ms. Lofaro. “What better message for today’s world and the future. Director Christine Yoo deserves our congratulations for her many years of work on the film and her continuing efforts to bring it to audiences like ours at Hamptons Doc Fest.”
The film, which took over five years to make, explores the crisis of incarceration through the stories of three men living out life sentences at San Quentin Prison in California. As they work to better themselves, the men in the 1,000 Mile Club, aided by dedicated volunteer coaches from the community, train for the most unique marathon in the world — 105 laps around an uneven dirt and concrete path in the crowded prison yard.
“To be included among the line-up of prestigious films was a true honor, and to now receive news that we won the Audience Award is downright thrilling,” said Yoo. “Thank you, Hamptons Doc Festival for creating a space for us to share the inspiring story of the 1,000 Mile Club and the marathon at San Quentin and allowing us to help spark meaningful discussion with Hamptons film lovers about forgiveness, redemption and the power of community. We look forward to keeping in touch and visiting again!”
Both director Christine Yoo, who was a prison volunteer, and Markelle “the Gazelle” Taylor, a former prison marathoner and then Boston Marathoner, attended the festival and were interviewed afterward by Andrew Botsford. The interview revealed the promising news that the film is being shown every day at 4 p.m. in California’s prisons, that membership in the 1,000 Mile Club has exploded in prisons throughout the country, and that so far, none of the 45 club members who have been released from prison have reoffended.
The film has already received acclaim, as it was featured on PBS NewsHour and has been included in Variety’s list of the top 20 documentaries predicted to win an Oscar nomination.
“Congratulations to the winner and to everyone at Hamptons Doc Fest,” added Robert Nelson, executive managing director of Brown Harris Stevens of the Hamptons. “We are thrilled to continue our longstanding support of the arts in our local communities by sponsoring the Brown Harris Stevens Audience Award.”
One fine body…