Eye For Film >> Movies >> Angola Do You Hear Us? Voices from a Plantation Prison (2022) Film Review
Angola Do You Hear Us? Voices from a Plantation Prison
Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson
Cinque Northern, whose excellent editing work can be seen in My Name Is Pauli Murray, steps into the director's chair for this Oscar-shortlisted documentary, which blends the biographical, theatrical performance and activism.
The film has a multiple focus, highlighting the work and career of actress and campaigner Liza Jessie Peterson, who is extensively interviewed, while also tackling the sadly all too familiar topics of the over-incarceration of African American men in US prisons - which the film argues is an extension of slavery - and the prison industrial complex more generally.
As a consideration of Peterson's life and craft, the film has plenty to say. She's an excellent communicator and the story of how she came to write and perform her one-woman show A Peculiar Patriot at Louisiana's State Penitentiary, Angola, is engagingly mixed with footage from her performance and, for reasons that become apparent as the film progresses, animated sequences.
The documentary makes its argument regarding prisons solidly but this is familiar ground and has been well explored in much more detail before by the likes of Eugene Jarecki's The House I Live In. Although Northern shows the powerful nature of Peterson's play, he is less successful at illustrating its impact on the prison itself. Thoughts from some of those who served time there are heard (revoiced to protect their identity) and the film would have benefited from more of this to show the effect of the play on those who saw it, as this is intimated more than fully articulated.Reviewed on: 10 Jan 2023