UIC filmmaker wins Wilbur Award

Edgar Barens

Edgar Barens, media specialist, Center for Social Policy and Research, Jane Addams College of Social Work

Edgar Barens is the winner of a 2015 Wilbur Award for the Academy Award-nominated film, “Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall.” Twenty-two winners were announced March 9.

“I am proud to be a representative of the Jane Addams College of Social Work and help fulfill its mission through the documentary films we are producing,” said Barens, media specialist in the college’s Center for Social Policy and Research at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The Wilbur Awards honor excellence by individuals in secular media – print and online journalism, book publishing, broadcasting, and motion picture – in communicating religious issues, values, and themes in the past year. The Religion Communicators Council, an interfaith association of more than 400 religion communicators, has presented the awards annually since 1949.

“Prison Terminal” is a documentary that breaks through the walls of one of America’s oldest maximum-security prisons to tell the story of the final months in the life of a terminally ill prisoner, Jack Hall, and the hospice volunteers, they themselves prisoners, who care for him.

The film also draws from footage shot over a six-month period behind the walls of Iowa State Penitentiary and provides an account of how the hospice experience can touch even the forsaken lives of the incarcerated.

The documentary was nominated for a 2014 Academy Award as Best Documentary Short Subject. It aired on HBO and is now available to HBO GO and ComCast Xfinity subscribers.

ABC News described “Prison Terminal” as “moving and intimate, an extraordinary film.”

“Prison Terminal” received the 2014 Audience Choice Award from the Council on Social Work Education and also was awarded a prestigious CINE Golden Eagle.

The Wilbur Award is named for the late Marvin C. Wilbur, a pioneer in religious public relations and former Presbyterian Church executive. Secular communicators enter work in eight categories, and are judged on content, creativity, impact and excellence in communicating religious values.

The awards will be presented April 11 in Alexandria, Virginia, during the council’s 86th annual national convention.