Directed by Errol MorrisUnited States | 1988
While phrases like ‘raise awareness’ and ‘challenge’ are thrown around in documentary film all the time, this film, in succeeding to get a man released from prison, seems to cheapen those terms as used in relation to most other examples in the field. The story told here, through interviews, reconstructions and a subdued but ominous Philip Glass score, is of Randall Adams’ imprisonment for the murder of Dallas County police officer Robert W. Wood in 1976.
Directed by Nagisa OshimaJapan | 1968
This is less a genre film—and therefore unique among the films chosen for this feature—and more the work of an auteur. It doesn’t attempt to deal with the issues confronting life in prison and it seems at first a satire of the death penalty and those opposed to its abolition only. But in the course of events, graduating from documentary to absurd theatre to surrealist fantasy in ever-widening gradations, Death By Hanging deals with sexual politics, race, religion, identity, a metaphysical conception of self and more. And throughout, despite the profundity of the increasingly absurd parody, Oshima insists upon its reality.