What I Want My Words to Do to You

Institute History

  • 2003 Sundance Film Festival


"Can a person's life have meaning again once she has done something truly horrible?" In this raw and deeply emotional documentary, a group of inmates are asked to address this question in a writing workshop led by playwright Eve Ensler at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women. Each woman in the writing group, including high-profile convicts such as former Weather Underground members Kathy Boudin and Judy Clark, accepts the challenge of addressing her crime, reckoning with her past, and envisioning a meaningful future in the face of spending the rest of life behind bars. The stories they share are lessons on self-discovery and the power of taking responsibility for one's life and actions from which we can all learn.

More than simply a document of a writing workshop, What I Want My Words to Do to You is a film about the power and mechanics of the artistic process. After the grueling and intimate process of struggling to articulate deep and difficult truths, the inmate's manuscripts are then rehearsed and performed by a group of actresses for the entire prison population. A palpable feeling grows in the audience as the performance feeds the human hunger for transformation.

— Shari Frilot

Screening Details

Sundance Film Festival Awards

As you use our Online Archives, please understand that the information presented from Festivals, Labs, and other activities is taken directly from official publications from each year. While this information is limited and doesn't necessarily represent the full list of participants (e.g. actors and crew), it is the list given to us by the main film/play/project contact at the time, based on the space restrictions of our publications. Each entry in the Online Archives is meant as a historical record of a particular film, play, or project at the time of its involvement with Sundance Institute. For this reason, we can only amend an entry if a name is misspelled, or if the entry does not correctly reflect the original publication. If you have questions or comments, please email [email protected]