SAN MARCOS, CA (May 24, 2023) — A Palomar College Television (PCTV) documentary film about the challenges faced by the formerly incarcerated as they return to life outside prison has been nominated for four regional Emmy awards, one San Diego Film award, and is selected for a showing at a prestigious film festival.

The feature-length film, “Almost Home – Life After Incarceration,” follows the lives of a group of formerly-incarcerated Palomar College students who participated in the Rising Scholars program, which provides them with support and financial aid.

The film was nominated for Emmy awards in the Pacific Southwest region: Best Documentary, Bill Wisneski and Cameron Lui; Best Director, Bill Wisneski; Best Audio, Luke Bisagna, Stephanie Gonzalez; and Best Musical Composition/Arrangement, Luke Bisagna and Stephanie Gonzalez. The winners will be named June 17 in Palm Springs.

In addition, the film has received a Best Feature Documentary by the Film Consortium of San Diego.  Winners will be announced on June 24 at the San Diego Film Awards ceremony at the Museum of Photographic Arts.  The ceremony will be broadcast live on KPBS.

The film will be making its world premiere at the Dances with Films Festival and is scheduled to be shown at the TCL Chinese Theatres on the festival’s opening night June 23.  The film was selected to be included in the highly regarded festival from thousands of submissions. 

Almost Home tells a moving story about students who are trying to improve their lives after paying their debt to society,” said Palomar College Superintendent/President Star Rivera-Lacey. “It magnificently shows the students’ efforts to overcome tremendous obstacles, and the recognition the film is receiving is well deserved.”

Palomar College’s Rising Scholars program offers courses taught at the Vista Detention Facility, and a program for formerly incarcerated students at Palomar’s main campus in San Marcos. The eight-week campus program provides assistance with enrolling, financial aid, transportation, books, and counseling.

One success story highlighted in the film is Luis Jimenez, who at the time of his arrest was suffering from depression.  After his incarceration, he enrolled at Palomar College, earned a degree, and is currently attending the University of California at Los Angeles.

“Sometimes I still look back and say, ‘Is this for real? Am I here?’” Jimenez said in the film. “I never thought I was going to college, let alone graduate from high school. Sometimes we need life lessons to get us back on the path that we were meant to take.”

Wisneski, director of the film, said the documentary was one of the most challenging projects for Palomar College Television, which has earned more than 30 Emmys. The filmmakers followed students they documented during the 2021-2022 academic year.

“I was just blown away from how phenomenal the group is,” Wisneski said. “We all have misconceptions that we don’t even realize. They’re great people with so much to offer. They all want to give back.”