French filmmaker focusing on families of prisoners

July 23, 2018

It’s not every day we get a call from France.

So thought Laure Clemons, Extended Family Executive Director, as she talked with Agnès Buthion about a new documentary project.

"Agnès is an experienced documentary filmmaker in France," Clemons said. "She called to talk about her desire to create a documentary showing the bond between parents and grown children who are incarcerated on death row or have life without parole."

Buthion’s past films have been about men who were innocent but kept in prison for years before release. Her last project focused on a death row inmate, and she talked to the inmate’s mother. This conversation introduced Buthion to the world of families of prisoners. 

Clemons and Buthion have been discussing what families of prisoners go through, and how Buthion can approach her new project with sympathy and compassion.

"Every time Agnès and I communicate I’m impressed with her desire to treat this subject, and the families, with respect," Clemons said. "In her words, she wants to 'bring the parents to light'."

Buthion has set clear guidelines for the project. She will not be using voice overs or re-enactments to tell the story of the inmate or the family. She wants to use their own voices, their letters and photos to tell the story. She will use news footage and reporting to describe the crime that was committed. 

Extended Family is sharing this documentary project information with our readers. If you are interested in learning more about the project or sharing your story directly with Agnès Buthion, please contact her at She will send you links to her past projects, answer your questions, and even call you – from France! 

"Agnès sent the following letter for us to share with families in the hopes it will communicate her plans and allow her to speak to more families of prisoners around the U.S.," Clemons said. 

To Extended Family Readers – from Agnès Buthion
"My Child Will Die in Prison" is the working-title of a project of a new true-crime documentary series exploring the relationship between parents and inmates. In each episode of this series, a parent and their child (from prison) will share about their rich and complex love bond and reveal, and unpick, piece-by-piece, the crime that pulled them apart forever. 

As a documentary maker I chose to explore this specific human journey after my previous films led me to different very emotional encounters with wrongful convicted inmates and their families. That made me wonder about the parents who were going through the "same" journey (having a child sentenced to life or to death) but for whom guilt was not an issue. How to cope, how to "be" a parent when your child is locked forever for a crime he/she did commit? How to survive the fingers pointed at oneself?

To complete this series, I am looking for parent of inmate -and the inmate- (I apologize in advance if some of my wording feels hurtful in some way):

-willing to share their stories and "comfortable" (as much as can be) with the crime being told on TV.

-whose crime led the inmate to LWOP or death row

-who used to share a normal and happy life, which would help erase preconceived ideas about inmate’s childhood and families.

-who would have personal footage and pictures to illustrate their family life before the crime (in order to avoid reconstructions. I don’t like reconstructions in documentary series, it makes the story look fake and far from what the persons at the heart of it lived and felt)

-whose crime might have been publicized (to use news archives- always for the same purpose: avoid reconstruction)

 If you recognize yourself in this short description, I would be extremely grateful to hear about your story and experience, and please feel free to contact me also to simply ask any questions you would need about this project or myself at

Agnès Buthion
mobile phone: +33 631 697 066
skype handle: agnesbuthion

Producer: Pernel Media, a French-based international independent TV production company
Director: Agnès Buthion
Broadcaster: The series hasn’t been commissioned yet. So far, 2 UK broadcasters showed a true interest in this project.
Pernel Media
13, rue de Vanves
92100 Boulogne Billancourt