Garrett Bradley’s Oscar Nominated Doc ‘Time’ Gets a Sequel: ‘We Knew There Was More We Wanted to Share’

It has been three years since Garrett Bradley’s documentary “Time,” centering on Sibil “Fox Rich” Richardson’s two-decade fight to get her husband Robert released from prison, was nominated for an Academy Award. Now, the pair is back in the spotlight with the sequel titled “Time II: Unfinished Business,” which was directed by Rich and will debut July 6 at Essence Film Festival.

“Time” premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, where Bradley was awarded best director for U.S. documentary in competition, becoming the first Black woman to win that prize. Amazon nabbed the film for a reported $5 million for global rights.

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The original film tells the story of the couple convicted of a bank robbery in 1997. Rich received a 14-year sentence but was released after three and a half, while Richardson got a 60-year sentence in the Louisiana State Penitentiary without the possibility of probation or parole. He was ultimately released in 2018.

While Bradley’s “Time” focused on the love story between the pair during his incarceration, “Time II: “Unfinished Business” focuses on Richardson’s life after prison and the couple’s ongoing efforts to bring home their imprisoned nephew, as well as other inmates.

In “Unfinished Business” Richardson, who produced the docu, is a free man trying to adjust to life after servicing 21 years behind bars. Like the original film, “Unfinished Business” combines Rich’s video diaries shot over the last 30 years with footage from her present life to portray the country’s flawed prison-industrial complex.

Fox and Richardson spoke to Variety about “Unfinished Business,” currently seeking distribution, ahead of its world premiere.

When did you decide to make the sequel to “Time”?

Rich: I knew that when Rob walked out of the gate (of the prison) in 2018 that even though it was a joyous moment, so much more lay ahead. I knew the most important thing wasn’t just him coming home, but what we would do upon his return. I was also concerned about being able to enlighten people on what had actually happened to get him home. “Time” the original focused more on our relationship and our family but it did not share with the viewing audience and in particular, the 2.3 million American families that are living through incarceration, any backstory about the legal measures taken towards Rob’s freedom. I didn’t want people to think that it was like mystically done, or like a fairy godmother or a Kim Kardashian had come in out of nowhere and helped us get him home. I think that people deserve to know how we got to victory and how we were liberated.

Would you say this film is less about your family and more about legal issues surrounding incarceration?

Richardson: It’s about our love for justice.

Rich: But also in our film you get to see us reunited or trying to find our way back to each other as well as our children learning how to make space for a father that they have never had to incorporate before into their day-to-day lives. Daddy had just always been at Angola prison. We just always talked to him when he called us or when he wrote us, or when we wrote him. So it was a new life for us that we are now able to share with viewers that fell in love with “Time,” and left wanting to know more. Jeffrey Katzenberg told us when we had an opportunity to meet him, that he loved “Time,” but it left him wanting to know so much more.

Did you ask or were you hoping that Garrett Bradley would direct this film?

Rich: At Sundance, we knew that there was more that we wanted to share. So, I immediately started speaking with our team about wanting to make a sequel to “Time” but everybody had their plate full. I mean, when you get nominated for an Oscar, I can’t even imagine what those phone calls look like. But I knew it was incumbent on us to make sure that the stories in our film get told. So, I didn’t lay that in the hands of an artist like Garrett. I didn’t lay it at the feet of a production company like (“Time” producer) Concordia Studio. When you know something must be done, you find a way to do it.

Fox, as a first-time filmmaker and even as a second and third time filmmaker it’s hard to get a documentary made. Funding is always an issue. How did you get “Unfinished Business” off the ground?

Rich: We were once facing 297 years in prison, so to put it into proper perspective, if it’s not 297 years behind bars, which is the worst thing we have ever faced, then the rest of this is just a walk in the park.

Richardson: One of the members of our production team shared a book with us and on the first page there is a quote from Robert Flaherty that reads something along the lines of, “whenever you take pieces of recorded reality and creatively organize them into a narrative, you have created a documentary.” That spoke to us because Fox is self-taught filmmaker with hundreds of hours of archival footage that she shot.

Fox, your achival videos make up more than half of “Time.” How much archival is featured in “Unfinished Business”?

Rich: Not as much. All of the footage that is in our film is basically footage that the viewer has not seen before. We had so much we didn’t have to duplicate. Our problem was what not to share because we had so much footage.

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