The Louisiana State Penitentiary, also known as Angola or “The Farm,” is America’s oldest and largest maximum security prison. Prior to 1865, the 18,000 acre property surrounded on three sides by the Mississippi River was a thriving plantation. Because so many people from west Africa were enslaved there, when the plantation became a prison, it kept the name “Angola.” Today, Angola prison is still run like a “farm” that works the 5,000 men imprisoned there from sun up to sun down. The majority of people who are sentenced to Angola have been convicted of violent crimes and will die behind the prison walls.
One decade after THE FARM: LIFE INSIDE ANGOLA (Oscar nominated 1999; two-time Emmy winner 1999), filmmakers go back inside Angola to document THE FARM: 10 DOWN. The cameras first met Bishop Eugene Tanniehill, Ashanti Witherspoon, Vincent Simmons, and George Crawford in Angola’s Louisiana State Penitentiary in 1998 as they served their long sentences. Ten years later, George Crawford finds himself almost exactly where he began his first day in prison, tending the fields of Angola. An older and wiser man, the years since he entered Angola at age 22 have been difficult. He struggles to maintain relationships outside of prison and tries to work towards trustee status. Ashanti Witherspoon was freed from Angola on parole shortly after THE FARM was broadcast and now works as a motivational speaker and mentor. In 2007, the governor of Louisiana pardoned Bishop Eugene Tanniehill after the Bishop had spent nearly 50 years behind bars. Now living in Brooklyn, New York, the Bishop is adjusting to life on the outside, and testifying to others about his remarkable journey. Vincent Simmons maintains his innocence and continues to fight for a new trial.
Please join us for a screening and panel discussion that includes Ashanti Witherspoon and local activist Harold Adams.