Hive Mind

Documentaries about Prisons

Francesca Soans sent a query to the Visible Evidence listserv on 5/29/2015, asking for documentary films about prisons or mass incarceration in the U.S. This list compiles the results of her query.


6×9 (interactive) (2016), Directors: Francesca Panetta and Lindsay Poulton

96 Acres Project (interactive) (2012), Director: Maria Gaspar

360 Degrees: Perspectives on the U.S. Criminal Justice System (interactive) (2001), Directors: Alison Cornyn and Sue Johnson

After Solitary (2017), Director: Cassandra Herrman and Lauren Mucciolo

Broken on All Sides (2012), Director: Matthew Pillischer

O Cárcere e a Rua (The Prison and the Street) (2005), Director: Liliana Sulzbach

Entre a Luz e a Sombra (Between Light and Shadows) (2009), Director: Luciana Burlamaqui

The Farm: Angola, USA (1998), Director: Jonathan Stack

Gideon’s Army (2013), Director: Dawn Porter

Herman’s House (2013), Director: Angad Bhalla

The House I Live In (2012), Director: Eugene Jarecki

I Thought I Was Seeing Convicts (2000), Director: Harun Farocki

In Loving Memory (2006), Director: Robert Todd

Indefinite (virtual reality) (2016), Director: Darren Emerson

Inside the Distance (Interactive) (2013), Director: Sharon Daniel

Invisible Picture Show (interactive) (2013), Director: Tim Travers Hawkins

Life and Death Row (series) (2014, 2016, 2018), Director: John Douglas

Lock-Up: The Prisoners of Rikers Island (1994), Directors: Jon Alpert and Nina Rosenblum

Mi Vida Dentro (My Life Inside) (2007), Director: Lucía Gajá

Murderers (2005), Director: Danny Lyon

Natural Life (2014), Director: Tirtza Even

O Prisioneiro da Grade de Ferro (The Prisoner of the Iron Bars) (2003), Director: Paulo Sacramento

Prison Images (2000), Director: Harun Farocki

Prison Map (interactive) (2012), Director: Josh Begley

Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall (2014), Director: Edgar Barens

Prison Valley (interactive) (2010), Directors: David Dufresne and Philippe Brault

The Prisoners (series) (2013), Producer: BBC

Prisons Memory Archive (interactive) (2006-present), Director: Cahal McLaughlin

Public Secrets (interactive) (2007), Director: Sharon Daniel

Saydnaya: Inside a Syrian Torture Prison (interactive) (2016), Director: Eyal Weizman

Slavery by Another Name (2012), Director: Sam Pollard

Still Here (interactive) (2020), Director: Sara Springer and Zahra Rasool

Tattooed Tears (1979), Director: Nick Broomfield

Through the Wire (1990), Director: Nina Rosenblum

Tulia, Texas (2008), Director: Cassandra Herrman and Kelly Whalen

Willy (1985), Director: Danny Lyon


Suggested Books and Articles:


Intelligence Work: The Politics of American Documentary, Chapter 4: “Filming Prisons” (2008), Author: Jonathan Kahana

“Intervention: Reality TV, Whiteness, and Narratives of Addiction,” by Jessie Daniels. Advances in Medical Sociology 14 (2012): 103-125.

New Documentary Ecologies: Emerging Platforms, Practices and Discourses (2014), Editors: Kate Nash, Craig Hight, and Catherine Summerhayes

Psychoanalysis and Ethics in Documentary Film (2014), Author: Agnieszka Piotrowska

Studies in Documentary Film, special iDocs edition (2014), Editors: Judith Aston, Jon Dovey, and Sandra Gaudenzi



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