40 YEARS A PRISONER | VIRTUAL THEATER
Philadelphia native Tommy Oliver follows the efforts of Mike Africa Jr. to exonerate his parents, both incarcerated members of the revolutionary group MOVE.
Young couple Debbie and Mike Africa were among the nine members of the Philly revolutionary collective MOVE to receive maximum sentences after a police raid on the group’s compound in 1978 left an officer dead. Debbie was pregnant at the time of the raid and gave birth to the couple’s son, Mike Africa Jr., behind prison walls. In this urgent documentary, director Tommy Oliver chronicles Mike Africa Jr.’s decades-long struggle to uncover the truth of what happened in the lead-up to the violent siege and exonerate his parents. In telling the story of MOVE’s fraught relationship with the police, Oliver has assembled an impressively detailed account, combining powerful archival footage and contemporary interviews with a wide array of subjects, from former commune members to retired cops. But far from being a history lesson, 40 YEARS A PRISONER is a testament to the continued relevance of MOVE’s story. The film is a moving account of a son’s tireless fight for justice and a vital, troubling reflection of a society in which police brutality, systemic racism, and carceral injustice are deeply entrenched.
In Competition: Pinkenson Award
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