“This provocative film...candidly documents the mixed emotions and institutional conflicts aroused by the introduction of a Buddhist practice in a predominantly Christian prison.”
– Jeanette Catsoulis, The New York Times
Jenny Phillips, Producer/Director/WriterJenny Phillips is a cultural anthropologist, writer, and psychiatric nurse. For over fifteen years, Phillips has provided services in the mental health department of a large medical center in Concord, MA. Her specialties include crisis intervention, family therapy, behavioral medicine, and hypnotherapy.
Over the past ten years, she has worked with men in both state and county prisons, teaching courses on emotional literacy skills. Based upon her experiences working with prisoners and recording their lives behind bars, Phillips wrote an article, Cultural Construction of Manhood in Prison, which was published in 2002 by the American Psychological Association journal, Psychology of Men and Masculinity.
In 2008, Phillips released The Dhamma Brothers into movie theatres. While working on the film, she received more than 200 letters from the Alabama prisoners documenting their lives in prison and their quest for inner peace. These collected letters were published in 2008 by Pariyatti Press as Letters From the Dhamma Brothers.
In 2002, Phillips and her husband, Frank, The Boston Globe’s State House bureau chief, initiated a project in Cuba to restore the Cuban home and extensive documents of Ernest Hemingway. This historic project served as a unique shared endeavor sanctioned by both the U.S. and Cuban governments during a time of heightened political conflict. Jenny is the granddaughter of legendary editor Maxwell Perkins, who was both editor and close friend to Ernest Hemingway. Through this ongoing collaborative work with the Cuban government, over 2,000 letters and documents, 3,000 photographs, and a 9,000-book library, all of which remained in Cuba after Hemingway’s death in 1961, are being restored for posterity.
Phillips continues to work on ensuring the widest distribution of The Dhamma Brothers, which has been shown to have an extraordinary potential to challenge narrow assumptions about the nature of prisons, long seen as solely places of punishment and warehousing. It is her hope that the story of the Dhamma Brothers and the deeply rooted Vipassana program at Donaldson Correctional Facility can now serve as an example to other prisons struggling with issues of overcrowding and lack of funding.
“During my first visit to Donaldson Correctional Facility in 1999, I had the opportunity to meet with several prisoners in long taped interviews. What they told me was often surprising and remarkable, and listening to their stories changed the course of my life in ways that I could not have anticipated.”
– Jenny Phillips