SYNOPSIS: Barry Gibbs will never get the images of prison out of his head. Even after winning the largest wrongful conviction settlement in New York City’s history, he is no lottery winner. After 19 unjust years behind bars, wrongful conviction took everything from him - his family, his health, his life savings, his sanity. The only thing he has left is his story. “Chains” is the story of Barry’s journey after prison, the struggle to piece a shattered life back together when NYPD detectives, hired by the mafia, framed him for murder, and changed his life forever. Beginning several years after his exoneration, this film captures the nuanced difficulty of daily life as an eccentric and neurotic Jewish man from Brooklyn tries to return to the world. An intimate and visceral perspective of life after wrongful conviction, this film illustrates the truth that settles in when the initial excitement of freedom fades. Shot over a 10-year period, this personal account is the first true look at the aftermath of wrongful imprisonment - not of the next day, week, or month, but the harsh reality of life after.
Gritty and real, the film lives with Barry Gibbs through years of destitution and poverty as he fights the City and State of New York for redemption. When he finally wins the largest civil rights settlement in New York City’s history, he finds that not even millions of dollars can undo the damage prison leaves behind. We witness Barry's transformation from rags to riches—a man who once lived in a half-way house suddenly becomes a multi millionaire—but Barry's quest for closure is a much larger look at the desperate need for redemption after two decades of life behind bars. As Barry tries to regain all that has been taken from him—his livelihood, his mental stability, his physical health, his relationship with his only son, his ability to engage romantically—we witness a heartbreaking human narrative about friendship, family, and love. In the end of the film we see Barry far from the destitute place we first met him, but having overcome all he believed stood in the way of his truly being free, Barry is still haunted by the demons of his past. The film ends with the understanding that when it comes to wrongful imprisonment, the loss of freedom can never be undone. The fear of what could happen, and the memory of what did, are bound to Barry like prison chains forever.