San Quentin Is Getting a Film Festival – Inside Prison Walls

San Quentin Film Festival Logo (Credit: SQFF)

Movie buffs have Cannes, Sundance and the American Black Film Festival. Now San Quentin is getting in on the action.

The California prison will host the inaugural San Quentin Film Festival (SQFF) this October, in what’s being touted as the first film festival behind bars.

According to the official announcement, the festival will celebrate the work of current and formerly incarcerated filmmakers.

“The SQFF aims to increase awareness of the powerful role arts and media training play in the prison system to create meaningful career pathways, help reduce recidivism, and provide a model that can be replicated at other institutions,” the announcement says.

Related Story: ‘Sing Sing’ Trailer – Colman Domingo Shines as an Inmate With Purpose (Video)

Among the movies scheduled to screen is the A24 drama Sing Sing, starring Colman Domingo, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The film tells the story of an inmate sentenced to 25 years to life for a crime he did not commit and features a cast of formerly incarcerated actors, as previously reported.

SQFF will also include networking opportunities with entertainment industry insiders. Invited guests include inmates, industry professionals, and VIPs.

The festival competition includes narrative short and documentary short categories, with the winners selected by an industry jury.

A jury of incarcerated people will judge narrative and documentary features about the prison experience, made by filmmakers described as outsiders “not directly system impacted.”

Festival co-directors include Rahsaan Thomas and Cori Thomas. Rahsaan is a formerly incarcerated filmmaker and contributing writer for The Marshall Project, San Quentin News, and Current.

SQFF takes place on Thursday, October 10, 2024, at San Quentin Rehabilitation Center.

The maximum security correctional facility is located near San Francisco and overlooks the bay north of the Golden Gate Bridge. The prison’s website says it houses up to 3,084 inmates, including men condemned to death.

The mission of SQFF is to promote the inclusion of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people in the entertainment industry. More details can be found here.

2 thoughts on “San Quentin Is Getting a Film Festival – Inside Prison Walls

  1. Hi Anita, that is so heartening to read!
    “Far Beyond the Walls” exhibition opens 14 June in the cell blocks, medical and max security spaces at the decommissioned Nevada State Prison. 25 artists explore incarceration from very different perspectives. Artists from the outside, incarcerated, and formerly incarcerated showing visual art and poetry within the walls for 4 months. Reception 22 June.

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