The Farm: Angola, USA

Director: Liz Garbus, Wilbert Rideau and Jonathan Stack
Year Released: 1998
Rating: 3.0

Important documentary about the notorious Louisiana State Penitentiary, which houses (mostly black) inmates serving life sentences (with a very slim chance of ever getting out alive) and is run by Jesus-Embracing warden Burl Cain. It's an eccentric establishment in many ways - they do plays, they have a rodeo, it's a working farm (which eerily - and uncomfortably - echoes plantation-era South), it has a TV station, it has a radio station, and they even run their own award-winning magazine (which co-director Rideau worked on during his stay there), and the filmmakers do a decent job trying to cover the day-to-day activities of the 'community' (which includes the 1,800 workers they have there). Trouble is, the filmmakers also seem to gloss over the prison's past and choose only to look at the present: Angola, at one time, was once considered the "bloodiest prison in America." Still, there's enough to get one's proverbial jimmies rustled (regardless of political orientation), like the parole hearing in which a man convicted of rape (and given an astronomical sentence for it) isn't exactly treated with respect (even when evidence suggests he could be innocent, particularly a doctor's testimony that the rape 'victim' was a virgin).