In Prison My Whole Life

In Prison My Whole Life
Directed by Marc Evans
Produced by Livia Giuggioli
Nick Goodwin Self
Written by Marc Evans
William Francome
Starring Mumia Abu-Jamal
Boots Riley
Noam Chomsky
Mos Def
Snoop Dogg
Steve Earle
William Francome
Russell Simmons
Alice Walker
Howard Zinn
Release dates
  • May 2007 (2007-05) (Cannes Film Festival)
  • 23 October 2008 (2008-10-23) (United Kingdom)
  • 23 November 2011 (2011-11-23) (France)
Running time
99 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

In Prison My Whole Life is a 2007 documentary film about Mumia Abu-Jamal, directed by Marc Evans, and written by Evans and William Francome. The title comes from the fact that Abu-Jamal was arrested in December 1981, on the day Francome was born. Others involved with the project were Angela Davis, Anthony Arnove, Dead Prez, Howard Zinn, Mos Def, Noam Chomsky, Robert Meeropol, Russell Simmons, Snoop Dogg and Steve Earle.[1] The film's executive producer is Colin Firth.

The film looks at the life of imprisoned political activist and former Black Panther member, Mumia Abu-Jamal, whose death sentence for killing a police officer was overturned in 2001 due to technical errors made during his original 1982 sentencing hearing. The film investigates America's civil rights history and its justice system through Jamal's court case.[2]


The film was nominated in 2008 for 'World Cinema - Documentary' with the award of 'Grand Jury Prize' at the Sundance Film Festival.[3][4]

The film premiered in France in October 2008[5] and was subsequently released by the festival in more than 20 towns.

At the 2009 International Festival of Cinema on Human Rights in Paris, In Prison... won the Student Award and the Planet Award.[6] The film was released nationwide in France on November 23, 2011.[7]


The film has a 38% "Rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[8] In a 2/5 star review, Time Out critic Tom Huddleston said of the film, "Sadly, My Little Eye director Marc Evans’s doc is only tangentially about Jamal – instead, he chooses to focus on William Francome. [...] Francome is an uninteresting central figure, unconnected to the case or the history of civil rights, to which the pair present a sort of Idiot’s Guide midway through. But Evans keeps him front and centre throughout [...] making ‘In Prison My Whole Life’ just another self-absorbed agit-prop documentary."[9]

Jay Weissberg of Variety called it an "unfocused, oddly naive" film, and that the editing "is overly dependent on computer tricks, and use of verbal loops to reinforce lines treats the audience like idiots."[10]

On the opposite, Le Monde calls the film "exciting", the editing being a "deliberated melting-pot", resulting in an overwhole "captivating portrait of Mumia Abu-Jamal".[11]

See also


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