Its a hard truthEvident Change is thrilled to announce the winner of the 2020 Distinguished Achievement Award, given annually to recognize outstanding work that offers meaningful insight into the complexities of US social systems.

It’s a Hard Truth, Ain’t It is this year’s Distinguished Achievement Award winner. This HBO documentary was filmed at the Pendleton Correctional Facility in Indiana and was co-directed by Dennis Brown, Marshaun Buggs, Al’Jonon Coleman, James Collins, Franklin Cox, Brandon Crider, Clifford Elswick, Quentis Hardiman, Joseph Henderson, Charles Lawrence, Herb Robertson, Rushawn Tanksley, and Mark Thacker, all of whom are incarcerated at Pendleton; and Madeleine Sackler, a film director and producer. In the film, the men take turns filming one another and sharing their personal stories and perspectives.

It’s a Hard Truth was selected for the Distinguished Achievement Award by an expert panel of guest judges. In discussing the award winner, one judge called it “a fantastic film that provides dignity for these people and teaches us about what landed them in prison. It reflects a good balance of how a society can push people certain ways but that individual choices make a difference too.”

Another judge watched the film with her 14-year-old son, who was engaged by it. She called this a good measure of the universality of the film and added, “It taught him more than I ever could about the criminal justice system.”

Because our 2020 awards program included media published or produced in 2019 only, COVID-19 was not part of the narrative in any of the entries. However, the pandemic has had a major impact on those living in prisons. Sadly, two of the people we honor with these awards will never know it, as both died from COVID-19 while incarcerated. It’s a Hard Truth co-director Charles Lawrence and the author of one of our winning Media for a Just Society essays, Timothy Bazrowx, died of COVID-19 earlier this year. We hope these awards are a fitting tribute to their lives and work.


Past Distinguished Achievement Award winners: