Cinema release in NY and LA to bring 'Cruel and Unusual' - the story of the Angola 3 - to the big screen and qualify for Academy Award consideration.
'Cruel and Unusual' is the story of three men who have spent longer in solitary confinement than any other prisoners in the US because of the murder of a prison guard in 1972 at Angola, the Louisiana state penitentiary.
Robert King, Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox were convicted by bribed and blind eye witnesses and with no physical evidence. Targeted as members of the Black Panther Party, the film follows their struggle against the miscarriage of justice and their cruel and unusual treatment.
Their story culminated in 2016 with the release of Albert Woodfox after 43 years in solitary confinement.
'Cruel and Unusual' has been eight years in the making. But that pales into insignificance compared to the 43 years that Albert Woodfox spent in a 6 foot by 9 foot cell for a crime he did not commit. After years left forgotten in the depths of America’s bloodiest prison, their struggle against this injustice had become an international scandal; when on the 19th February last year, on his 69th birthday, Albert was finally released, it was headline news around the world. Here is a small selection of that coverage:
‘Cruel and Unusual’ shines a light on the overuse of long-term solitary in US prisons. It is also the story of three remarkable men who as members of the Black Panther Party have been fighting for justice since the early 1970s. Even though the Angola 3 have been released, their struggle continues. On any given day it is estimated that ten to fifteen thousand prisoners are kept in solitary in the US. We want to make sure as many people as possible hear the Angola 3's story and support the continuation of their campaign to end long-term solitary confinement in US prisons.
A US cinema release aims to give a platform for their story and campaign. By starting in New York and Los Angeles, the film also becomes eligible for the Academy Awards, which hopefully will give the campaign even more visibility.
Vadim Jean - Director
I first heard about the Angola 3 from Anita and Gordon Roddick, the founders of The Body Shop stores, who had been helping the Angola 3 fight their case since 2001. Anita told everyone she knew about them. But she didn’t just talk about issues, she did something about it. In fact her big thing was, "just do something". Do it from kindness, do it because you have faith, do it because you’re guilty, do it because it’s right; for her it didn’t matter. Just do something.
So when in 2007 I sat at her Memorial to celebrate her life, and Robert King came onto the stage to speak, I should have guessed that as this was Anita, it might change the course of the next eight years of my life. Robert was full of dignity, grace, sanity, courage and it must be said charisma. He also played two crackly telephone messages from Herman and Albert in solitary. It was profoundly moving. I cried. In seemingly one of the worst of the worst places on earth, somehow they had managed to find the best of the best that the human spirit has to offer. And like all of us that knew her, Anita had changed their lives. So now, her big finger was pointing down at me. And it had a big sign on it saying, "just do something". For me, that thing was to make this film.
If I'm honest, during most of the making of this film I doubted that Herman and Albert would ever be free. That these incredible men have been released is the consequence of a remarkable coalition against the injustice. But most of all it is because they are two of the most extraordinary people I have ever met. They fought for decades for justice and ultimately won their struggle, though for Herman, his freedom was won at the ultimate cost…
I hope the film may do its small part in helping to bring attention to this injustice. If you would like to "just do something" please help us to support the Angola 3 and their ongoing campaign by backing the US cinema release of 'Cruel and Unusual'.
The Mob Film Company
As well as documentaries, the Mob also produces feature films and television drama, including the multi-BAFTA winning Terry Pratchett Discworld adaptations, which remain the highest ever rating shows on Sky One. They are currently completing the movie 'The Man Who Invented Christmas', the story of Charles Dickens writing 'A Christmas Carol' starring Dan Stevens, Christopher Plummer and Jonathan Pryce.
For more information on the Angola 3 and the ongoing campaign to end the long-term use of solitary confinement please see their website.
WHERE WILL THE MONEY GO?
While there will be distribution for DVD, streaming and online, we are doing our own cinema release in support of the campaign. This means taking a financial risk on the booking of cinemas and other associated costs, including prints, publicity, and travel for Albert and Robert - and it's expensive. Sadly we don't have budget for this. So it's these costs that your support will contribute towards.
A one week release in New York and Los Angeles will also qualify the film for Academy Award consideration. Traditionally for feature documentaries this is one of the best ways for a film to get maximum exposure.
If we should exceed our Kickstarter goal we will introduce stretch goals to expand our release to other US cities, such as New Orleans, Louisiana (for obvious reasons!), Washington, Austin and Miami.
As thanks for your support we are offering some great rewards: tickets to either the NY or LA premieres with Albert and Robert or to a private screening with the filmmakers in London, exclusive 'Cruel & Unusual' T-shirts; DVDs; posters, etc.
Risks and challenges
The great thing about this is that the film is already made! So unlike other kickstarter campaigns there's no risk that if you support us we might not end up with a finished product - because we already have it.
We've made all the arrangements ready to go so all we need is your help to secure the funds and we can guarantee that the film will make it to cinemas and backers will recieve their promised rewards.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)