As producer-director Keith McQuirter explains in his Director's Statement, it started nearly a decade earlier, when he was at work on a different film:
In 2008, I visited a correctional facility in New Jersey for research for a documentary film project. It was my first time visiting a correctional facility of any kind. As I sat in the cafeteria with the general population, and listened to community leaders give speeches about what’s in store for the men when they return to society, I couldn’t help but be stunned by what I saw – a sea of young Black men around my age and who looked like me.
Intellectually, I’ve always been aware of the staggering number of black men incarcerated in America, but after seeing it for myself firsthand, I left the facility physically sick and deeply disturbed.
The Milwaukee area designated by zip code 53206 boasts the highest percentage of incarceration in the country. According to recent statistics, in this mostly African-American enclave, 62% of adult men have spent time in jail or prison.
The other film, a narrative drama, is titled 53206 Milwaukee and is just getting started. The director, Kim Zukowlski, grew up in the 52306, and her goal is to share a message of hope that these five digits do not condemn someone to a hopeless future. She told local ABC-TV affiliate WISN that she is currently in the middle of casting.
In a sense, the prelude to both these films is Barbara Miner's February 2015 Milwaukee magazine examination "A Dream Deferred." The article was recently honored with a Milwaukee Press Club Gold Award for Best Long Feature.
There are three main subjects in McQuirter's documentary: Beverly Walker, whose husband has been kept in prison by changing parole laws; Dennis Walton, co-director of Milwaukee Fatherhood Initiative, a support group catering to the families of incarcerated men; and Chad Wilson, recently released after 15 years in prison for non-violent crimes.
[Milwaukee 52306 documentary Facebook page]