After being separated from his incarcerated mother at birth, Tommy Franklin searches for her identity while uncovering deep ancestral bloodlines. As he gets closer to this life-altering truth, he must navigate his way through systems designed to keep him in the dark.
Tommy Franklin is a formerly incarcerated filmmaker living in his imagination, dreaming of what his birth mother may be like. Erica Gerrity leads the search for Tommy’s birth mom. Erica has worked on family reunification with incarcerated mothers and their children for the past twenty years, devoting her time to creating better healthcare outcomes for people birthing behind bars, including lobbying for anti-shackling legislation. Tommy joins a community of formerly incarcerated mothers and prison doulas fighting to end prison birth in America. In March 2023, Tommy discovered his biological father in New Orleans. Both of their worlds are rocked in complex ways as his guilt-ridden, emotionally-stricken father, after learning he has another son, joins the “search party” to solve the mystery of who he conceived with that fateful 1983 New Orleans summer. What’s left is the massive mystery of who gave birth to Tommy in 1984. Tommy is a parent to two daughters. What guides him as a parent is self-reflection, honesty with himself, and the acknowledgement of how hard parenting is, but he’s curious to know what he could have learned from his birth mother, what could have been modeled for him, especially regarding love and culture. Tommy is unsure how long he can endure his search if he runs into too many dead ends. Is Tommy’s mother alive? Does she want to meet him? Do they finally meet? He thought he was ready for the truth, but fear and doubt seeps into the cracks of a treacherous emotional waiting game. But he never wants to live life as the version of himself that gives up the search. The miracle of finding out who his mother is could be the light emerging from his greatest shadow.
About the Filmmakers
Tommy Franklin is a filmmaker, writer, producer, creator of Weapon of Choice Podcast and Special Menu Productions. He was a founding board member of All Square, is a founding board member of the Ostara Initiative, and is a creative and communications consultant at the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI). His documentary work in progress YOU DON’T KNOW MY NAME has been supported by Sundance, Jerome Foundation, Catapult Film Fund, and others. Tommy earned fellowships with Kartemquin Films (DVID), Film Independent, CNN, and is an inaugural Confluence Fellow with True/False Film Fest. Tommy was a 2023 Big Sky Pitch participant and is a 2023 BAVC Mediamaker fellow. His pilot Intrepid was a finalist for 2021’s Sundance Episodic Lab, and he was a 2022 Sundance BIPOC Mentorship Program Mentee. Tommy made three off-the-wall narrative short films, and he collaborates in philanthropic and grassroots organizing communities to produce nonfiction content he believes in. A survivor of incarceration (born in prison and having served time in adulthood), Franklin works along creative culture lines to radically reimagine power structures, focusing on Black liberation. He is sure he wants to do this.
Dawne Langford is a filmmaker, a 2023 Women to Watch Adobe x Fellow, and 2022-23 Sundance Producers Lab Fellow. After years of working as a broadcast television editor, she expanded her role after her acceptance to the PBS Producers Academy in 2013. She shifted her focus to producing independent feature documentaries, including; CHECK IT, KANDAHAR JOURNALS, and FINDING JOSEPH I. Dawne collaborated on projects for CNN Films, CGTN, Discovery Channel, and Moxie Pictures in N.Y.C. with director Lee Hirsch. Her film, The Body Politic, will premiere in the film festival circuit and broadcast on PBS in 2023/2024. Her primary interest is amplifying traditionally suppressed narratives and presentations of historical events to deepen understanding, support learning, and stimulate community dialogue.