Oscar-nominated film airs on HBO March 31

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“Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall” was directed by Edgar Barens, media specialist in the Jane Addams College of Social Work. Photo: HBO Documentary Films

Though he was surprised and disappointed that his documentary didn’t win an Oscar, Edgar Barens is delighted that HBO will air the film March 31.

“Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall” could be viewed by as many as 28 million people when it’s shown at 8 p.m. on the cable television network.

“I have to be happy about that,” said Barens, media specialist in the Jane Addams College of Social Work’s Center for Social Policy and Research.

Prison Terminal” tells of the last days of an inmate serving a life sentence for murder, and the hospice volunteer inmates who care for him.

As Barens sat in the audience at the Academy Awards March 2, “I was so confident that ours was the best film, the wind was taken out of my sails” when it didn’t win the Oscar for best Documentary Short Subject, he said.

The winner was “The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life,” about a woman who until her death Feb. 23 was the oldest Holocaust survivor.

But Barens has moved on, beginning preliminary research for his next documentary — about long-haul truck drivers. The film will raise troubling issues pertaining to labor and health care.

“Seventy percent of these guys are obese, and they work more hours than they’re putting on their log books,” the filmmaker said.

Truckers are poorly paid by the huge corporations they work for, he added.

“A lot of them go on two-week trips and come back with a couple hundred bucks in their pocket,” he said.

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