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Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo (2010)


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Critic Reviews: 3
Fresh: 3 | Rotten: 0



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Movie Info

'Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo' goes behind prison walls to follow convict cowgirls on their journey to the 2007 Oklahoma State Penitentiary Rodeo. In 2006, female inmates were allowed to participate for the first time. In a state with the highest female incarceration rate in the country, these women share common experiences such as broken homes, drug abuse and alienation from their children. Since 1940, the Oklahoma State Penitentiary has held an annual 'Prison Rodeo'. Part Wild West show and


Documentary, Special Interest

Feb 1, 2011


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All Critics (6) | Top Critics (3) | Fresh (3) | Rotten (3)

Informally sketched but deeply felt...

September 24, 2010 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
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These are vivid, flawed, even introspective characters. And they're classic American strivers. With rodeo, but not just that, they hope to go beyond where they have been.

September 17, 2010 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
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There's enough rosy-cheeked drama, triumph, and sacrifice for a ready-made Hollywood remake.

September 14, 2010 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
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Interesting but uncritically na´ve look at male and female convicts in Oklahoma, competing in one of the nation's last two prison rodeos.

October 4, 2010 Full Review Source: Film Journal International
Film Journal International

There's a potentially more interesting follow-up doc ghosting right behind this one.

September 16, 2010 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

Throughout, the film circles around the sociological significance of the rodeo.

September 15, 2010 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

Audience Reviews for Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo

"Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo" is an illuminating, yet repetitive, documentary about the Oklahoma State Prison Rodeo, the only rodeo held behind bars that has been operating since 1940. And 2006 is the first year women have been allowed to compete. What's stated is the possibility that the audience views this as gladiatorial combat, especially Make Money the Hard Way,(Trust me. They are not kidding.) and want to see blood. Me personally, I root for everybody to do well in the rodeo, and that rooting interest carries over into the convicts' everyday lives, hoping they turn them around. Actually, a good deal of the documentary deals with the women's lives outside of the arena behind bars. Of all states, Oklahoma has the highest incarceration rate and jails the highest percentage of women, 80% of whom are mothers. One person links their toughness to getting in trouble with the law but a lot of that toughness comes from surviving behind bars, separated from loved ones. Actually, jail time can be arbitrary and a lot of these women are in jail on drug charges.(One has been in jail for 13 years for murder and is now up for parole.) The rodeo serves as a form of positive reinforcement, strange as that may seem to those too frightened to ever think of riding a bull.(And the documentary provides another good reason not to.) In fact, the rodeo provides a jolt of adrenaline and a break in a nearly endless routine, not to mention for a very brief space of time, a taste of freedom.
September 19, 2010
Walter M.

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