Incarceration

1977
About Media

Anthony Ramos' astute deconstruction of television news focuses on his part in the media coverage of President Jimmy Carter's 1977 declaration of amnesty for Vietnam draft evaders. Ramos, who had served an 18-month prison sentence for draft evasion, was interviewed by news reporter Gabe Pressman, whose film crew meets Ramos' video crew in a confrontation between technologies and sensibilities. At the time, some broadcast television news crews still used 16mm film, although the expensive transition to ENG (electronic news gathering) systems had begun in 1974.

1997

One of Zaatari’s earliest experiments in documentary video, All Is Well on the Border emerged from the filmmaker’s desire to understand Israel’s occupation of Southern Lebanon following the 1982 Lebanon War. The video presents a series of testimonies by Lebanese citizens who were detained during the occupation, each presenting an image of resistance that falls outside the dominant narrative of liberation and solidarity promoted by the Lebanese left.

1992
And They Came Riding Into Town on Black and Silver Horses

And They Came Riding into Town on Black and Silver Horses looks at how media representations shape our perception of violence and violent crime, in effect creating racist stereotypes. Andrews suggests that the evidence against young black men is gathered not at the scene of the crime but at the scene of representation.

1991
Wendy Clarke, One on One: Arnold and Ahneva

Featuring Arnold and Ahneva from Wendy Clarke's One on One video series, this video dialogue deeply connects the pair through discussion of Black brother and sisterhood. The two find comfort in sharing their own creative individualities, endeavors, and dreams. Their discussion and newly formed relationship poignantly touches upon the impact of mass incarceration within the Black community.

1971
Attica Interviews

Portable Channel, a community documentary group in Rochester, New York, was one of the first small format video centers to have an ongoing relationship with a PBS affiliate (WXXI). Portapakers interviewed Sinclair Scott, a member of the negotiating team that went into Attica when the prisoners' rebelled at the federal prison in September 1971. Thirty-eight guards were taken hostage after prisoners' demands to improve their conditions were ignored. After a three day stand-off between inmates and authorities, Governor Nelson Rockefeller called in the National Guard.

1998
 Auto : Body

This project on family violence, spanned two years and several sites across the country, and involved wrecked cars in sculptural installations. The cars were reconfigured by women and children who suffered violence at the hands of loved ones. Linked to each other through common experience, women from a domestic violence shelter in Pittsburgh, a family violence program at Bedford Hills prison, children from shelters in Niagara Falls and Cleveland, teenage girls in Oakland, and politicians on Staten Island all collaborated in making the cars.

1992
The Deathrow Notebooks

Deathrow Notebooks is structured around an interview with Mumia Abu-Jamal, a political prisoner, who is on death row in Pennsylvania. Former president of the Association of Black Journalists, Abu-Jamal is a writer and creator of widely broadcast radio programs who continues to write from prison. He was accused of killing a police officer and was convicted in a trial that contained many irregularities. To date, all of his appeals have failed.

1994
Wendy Clark, One on One: Ken and Louise

Featuring Ken and Louise from Wendy Clarke's One on One video series, this video exchange encompasses a shared passion for music and pure emotional vulnerability that creates an incredibly intimate relationship between these two strangers throughout the project's evolution. Their connection is palpable, leaving the viewer envisioning a possible real life encounter between the two outside of the realm of this project.

2002
Phyllis Kornfeld: An Interview

In this interview, Phyllis Kornfeld, author of Cellblock Visions: Prison Art in America, describes her initial interest in working with prisoners in her native Oklahoma City, stemmed from an exploration of outsider artists. Detailing her first visit to a high security prison as a ‘mind blowing and breathtaking’ experience, Kornfeld discusses how she came to her realization that prisons are fertile environments for free form experimentation with the teaching process. She learned that through personalized art education, inmates could teach themselves to make positive contributions to society. - Kyle Riley

2014

Natural Life is a feature-length experimental documentary challenging inequities in the U.S. juvenile justice system by depicting, through documentation and reenactment, the stories of five individuals who were sentenced to Life Without Parole (Natural Life) for crimes they committed as youth.

2014
Mary Patten, Panel

PANEL originated as a performance-based, multi-channel video/sound installation, drawn from a transcript of a discussion at “Schizo Culture,” the notorious conference on schizophrenia and radical politics organized by Sylvère Lotringer at Columbia University in 1975.

1992
One on One: Ricky and Cecelia, Wendy Clarke

Featuring Ricky and Cecelia from Wendy Clarke's One on One video series, this video exchange between the pair explores topics concerning sibling love, decaying family relationships, and a shared interest in professional football. Although brief compared to the other parts within the One on One series, there is a glimmer of genuine human connection in their words.

2007
Space Ghost

Space Ghost compares the experiences of astronauts and prisoners, using popular depictions of space travel to illustrate the physical and existential aspects of incarceration: sensory deprivation, the perception of time as chaotic and indistinguishable, the displacement of losing face-to-face contact, and the sense of existing in a different but parallel universe with family and loved-ones.

2003
super-max

I drove around the U.S. filming these super maximum-security prison buildings the spring and summer after the World Trade Center bombing. I knew that counties within various states had been frantically outbidding each other to get these high-tech gulags to replace the farming and manufacturing jobs that have been lost over the last 25 years. The timing seemed right to remind everyone what we have been doing with our public funding and to draw parallels with the neo-liberal economic policies espoused with variations by the Reagan, Clinton and both Bush administrations.

2009
Calin Dan, Wings for Dogs

The result of a three-year project with inmates from a high security prison in Romania, Wings for Dogs is an essay about language and its capacity to simultaneously communicate and hide issues connected to guilt and responsibility.