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Reporting and blogging from the London festivals scene: coming soon Raindance...


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IN PRISON MY WHOLE LIFE (2007) AT THE LONDON FILM FESTIVAL! (REVIEW)

SHOWING AT THE BFI LONDON FILM FESTIVAL (2007)

UK DOCUMENTARY

IN PRISON MY WHOLE LIFE 

Dir. Marc Evans


In short, this film looks at the life of imprisoned political activist and former Black Panther member, Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was found guilty of the murder of a police officer in Philadelphia and sentenced to death. He has been awaiting execution ever since. However, this man’s story cuts far deeper than you may first think. There is much speculation around the legitimacy of Abu-Jamal’s arrest and so many shady cover-ups that continue to surround the case, that serious questions have been raised to the reasons behind Mumia’s imprisonment to a global audience. The inspiration to this story was surged by William Francome, the co-writer of this documentary, born on December 9th 1981; the very same night as radical, left-wing journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal (a former black panther) was shot, and then arrested in the state of Philadelphia for killing a police officer. Mumia has protested his innocence from the day he was sent down, but nevertheless was found guilty and sentenced to death.

Perhaps why this story has raised so much public attention is because Mumia’s arrest came at such a potent time in the history of Philadelphia. A time which much of the world today, know nothing about; a time where black organization MOVE were being targeted by Philadelphia police in a way, which aimed to get rid of (by any force necessary) any members which refused to co-operate with the cops - the result of which left a baby dead after a vicious police raid in 1974.Mumia was not directly involved with MOVE, though he sympathized with their injustices and actively wrote in support of these individuals. This was not looked at kindly by state officials. At this time it was not thought of as ‘journalistically appropriate’ to speak out in anyway against the authorities.  Many other factors are highlighted throughout the film – the lack of witness statements, changes in prosecution testimonies, police corruption, bribery and racism. In 1981, all of these elements were overlooked. It is only now, in retrospect that global audiences are becoming aware of the atrocities that occurred. And realizing how proving that Mumia Abu-Jamal guilty was far from, ‘beyond the reasonable doubt’ required to make a conviction.

 

There has been In ternational support from organizations such as Amnesty International and figureheads such as Nelson Mandela. The documentary also includes contributions from, Alice Walker, Noam Chomsky, Mos Def, Snoop Dog and Steve Earle, and an interview with Mumia himself.All this fuels the defense of Mumia’s case and hopefully raises awareness of the injustices which surround the case. Most importantly, hopefully the state of Philadelphia will finally listen to public opinion, where previously they have overruled any attempts for appeal. Mumia has never even been considered for Parole.  

 


This documentary is approached with consideration and respect for Abu-Jamal’s life, and illustrates his story with a fresh energy and original style. Painting a picture of Mumia’s case, both the writers and director deliver new evidence to strengthen this compelling case. Aged 27 upon his arrest, Mumia has spent the last 26 years of his life behind prison walls. Now aged 53, and never being allowed the privilege of holding his grandchildren in his arms, it is unsure whether this man will continue to spend the final chapter of his life outside in the arms of family and friends, or whether he will remain condemned to death.

 

This important film deserves your attention and is a must watch, coming soon at the London Film Festival, 2007.

  • Thu 25 Oct 18:30, Odeon West End 1 £11.00  
  • Fri 26 Oct 19:30, BFI Southbank Studio £8.50
  • Sun 28 Oct 14:15, Ritzy Cinema £8.50

LL Hodgson, 0ct 07.

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About Laura-Louise

Hodgson Laura

Laura Hodgson and her associates

Reporting from the London Festival circuit for fest21.com and filmfestivals.com


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