FREE TO LAUGH is short doc directed by Lara Everly and produced by Elease Lui Stemp. We collaborated with the Amity Foundation, a non-profit in downtown Los Angeles, which houses women on parole and probation to help prevent recidivism. We organized a three-day comedy workshop – teaching improv and stand up – culminating in a show for friends and family. 

These women channeled years of pain, guilt and incarceration into writing their own stand up material, healing through laughter and propelling themselves into the present moment through improvisation. Humor is truly a way to cope and to bring our inner shadows into the light.

FREE TO LAUGH focuses on the deep connection between tragedy and comedy, and how humor not only heals but is a part of redemption and reinvention. These women’s stories are as bone-chilling as they are heart-warming. FREE TO LAUGH will share the voice of incarcerated women, a voice seldom heard, and further show how all our stories are still unfolding. Even after spending twenty years behind bars, your story is still being created every day.


We are honored that FREE TO LAUGH was accepted into the 2016 Santa Barbara International Film Festival and will enjoy its world premiere at this prestigious fest!