This insightful, quietly activist documentary considers inmates’ views of solitary confinement. Clamor echoes through Red Onion State Prison, a supermax facility in rural Virginia where prisoners spend nearly 23 hours of each day alone. Director-producer Kristi Jacobson explores how they ended up among the 100,000-plus inmates in solitary confinement across the United States and what they must do to be granted return to a less-restrictive setting. The process can take years, as we discover from Randall, whose observations begin and end the film: since killing another prisoner, he has been there nearly a decade.
Tight camera angles and high-contrast photography emphasize these inmates’ despair and anger as insistently as the stories they tell over the course of the year that Jacobson spent filming them (along with the prison’s corrections officers and psychiatrists); their confessions of loneliness and rage give us a new and startlingly intimate perspective on incarceration in America today.
Producer: Kristi Jacobson, Julie Goldman, Katie Mitchell | Editor: Ben Gold | Cinematographer: Nelson Hume