I have been asked to document the film premier “In the Land of the Free” for Brightwide at the Ritzy Cinema in Brixton on 20th April 2010.
The story of ex-Black Panther activists Herman Wallace, Albert Woodfox and Robert King – known as the Angola 3 – who have spent almost a century between them in solitary confinement in Angola, the Louisiana State penitentiary. A shocking story of incivility, unfair trial and inhuman and degrading punishment.
Colin Firth joined the Brightwide team with Bianca Jagger to meet Robert King, Gordon Roddick and Vadim Jean, the director of “In the Land of the Free”. Outside the cinema sat a stunning installation of the prison cell in which Robert King – whose sentence was finally overturned in 2001 after a horrifying 31 years spent in solitary confinement – spent his entire adult life. The Brightwide team launched the letter campaign by symbolically posting the very first letter of petition and support to Herman and Albert through the prison cell bars.
After the film, a few moments of silent, palpable and vivid emotional energy hung in the air, before Polly Toynbee, the President of the Social Policy Association and columnist for The Guardian opened the panel debate that she would skillfully moderate.
Robert spoke first about his experiences, followed by Vadim, who paid tribute to Anita Roddick, that restless activist who first exposed the case of the Angola 3 and to whose memory the film is dedicated. Clive Stafford Smith of Reprieve answered the most controversial question with eloquence and authority.
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