Prison Valley: an Interactive Web Documentary
Prison Valley is an interesting French documentary/interactive experience that examines Canon City, Colorado -- home to 13 prisons, one of which is the first Supermax prison (widely considered to be the new "Alcatraz"). The web doc consists of brief filmed segments interspersed with interactive sequences, and offers a glimpse at where documentary film may be headed in the online space. Unfortunately it seems that I can't embed a sequence, so here's the blurb:
Created by David Dufresne and Philippe Brault, the striking multimedia production takes viewers to the heart of Canon City, “a distant place that is home to 36,000 souls and 13 prisons.” Produced by the French company Upian and distributed by Arte.tv, Prison Valley, is an interactive journey into the prison industry in the United States. Released in April, the web documentary is the result of months of investigative work by two French journalists, Dufresne and Brault, and the distillation of thousands of photographs, hours of audio and video, and an eye-watering number of statistics. Prison Valley invites users to check into a room at the motel with a personal Facebook or Twitter account, and then continue the journalists’ journey into the valley. The work pushes users to delve beyond the chronological film, asking them to take part in online debates and exchange emails with people who appear in the documentary.
I found some of the interface confusing (presenting the video full size is great, but it cuts off the titling in many instances), but after playing with it only briefly, I've found it to be an engaging and innovative look at an issue that's often out of sight, out of mind. It brings to mind After Innocence, a deeply touching documentary on exonerated prisoners that I can't recommend highly enough.
Link: Prison Valley
[via Filmmaker Magazine]