Academy Award-winning director Roger Ross Williams and CNN Films have teamed together on a documentary film that explores the American prison system.
Williams’ American Jail investigates a range of stakeholders’ positions on the issue of what fuels the prison complex, and offers examples of potential solutions, even heading to the Netherlands for cases of success to address the “prison pipeline.”
The film employs the use of animation and expert commentary in telling its story. Williams examines the history of incarceration in America and its origins in the practice of indentured servitude, even slavery, as well as the need for labor to maintain and expand the prison industry.
The Life, Animated filmmaker launches the film in an attempt to understand the factors that led a childhood friend, who made assorted, relatively common mistakes in his young life, to commit suicide at the age of 52. In this process, he draws parallels between his friend’s experience and his own.
American Jail is written, directed, and produced by Williams and is produced by Femke Wolting and Bruno Felix. The film is executive produced by Amy Entelis and Courtney Sexton of CNN Films, and Mette Hoffman Meyer and Nick Fraser.
CNN Films holds exclusive North American broadcast rights to the film.
Williams’ first project for CNN Films, the docu short Blackface, was released in 2015 via CNN Digital Studios.
American Jail will premiere on July 1 at 8:00 pm ET/PT on CNN, CNNgo and via CNNgo apps for AppleTV, Roku, Amazon Fire, Samsung Smart TV, and Android TV, as well as on the CNN mobile apps for iOS and Android.