Barens directs and produces documentary films that explore the many issues at play in the American criminal justice system. Prior to "The Hive," his most significant documentary was "Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall," which was nominated for an Academy Award in the Documentary Short Subject category in 2014. The documentary was also nominated in the Best Short category at the International Documentary Association and garnered the prestigious CINE Golden Eagle in the same year. "Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall" was subsequently broadcast on HBO for two years and screened at over 80 prisons throughout the United States. Barens takes great satisfaction in his ability to tackle large-scale problems within the American criminal justice system and present them on a very personal level, so that the destructive impact of a dysfunctional correctional system is made more tangible to the viewer.