Herman’s House will have its Canadian Premiere on April 27 at TBLB 1 at 9pm.
There will be two more screenings, May 2 at the ROM at 9:15pm and on May 6 at TBLB 2 at 9:30pm.
Storyline Entertainment presents
Directed by Angad Singh Bhalla
Canadian Premiere at HOT DOCS
Hot Docs Screening Schedule
TBLB1 April 27, 2012 9:00:00 PM
ROM May 2, 2012 9:15:00 PM
TBLB2 May 6, 2012 9:30:00 PM
Writer + Director: Angad Singh Bhalla
Producer: Lisa Valencia-Svensson, Angad Singh Bhalla
Executive Producer: Ed Barreveld, Loring McAlpin
Editor: Ricardo Acosta
DOP: Iris Ng, Angad Singh Bhalla
The injustice of solitary confinement and the transformative power of art are explored in Herman’s House, a feature documentary from first-time director Angad Singh Bhalla, that follows the unlikely friendship between Jackie Sumell a New York artist, and Herman Wallace, one of America’s most famous inmates, as they collaborate on an acclaimed art project.
Herman’s House will have it Canadian Premiere at Hot Docs, April 27, 2012 at tiff Bell Lightbox 1 at 9:00pm. Prior to Hot Docs, Herman’s House had a sneak-preview at the True/False Film Fest in Columbia, Missouri, and will have its World Premiere at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, in Durham, North Carolina.
In 1972, New Orleans native Herman Joshua Wallace (b. 1941) was serving a 25-year sentence for bank robbery when he was accused of murdering an Angola Prison guard and thrown into solitary confinement. Many believed him wrongfully convicted. Appeals were made but Herman remained in jail and—to increasingly widespread outrage—in solitary.
In 2001 Herman received a perspective-shifting letter from Jackie, a young art student who posed the provocative question: “What kind of house does a man who has lived in a six-foot-by-nine-foot cell for over 30 years dream of?”
Thus began an inspired creative dialogue, unfolding over hundreds of letters and phone calls and yielding a multi-faceted collaborative project that includes the exhibition “The House That Herman Built.” The revelatory art installation—featuring a full-scale wooden model of Herman’s cell and detailed plans of his dream home—has brought thousands of gallery visitors around the world, face-to-face, with the harsh realities of the American prison system.
But as Herman’s House reveals, the exhibition is just the first step. Their journey takes another unpredictable turn when Herman asks Jackie to make his dream a reality. While spending 23 hours a day in his cell – a practice that could be considered torture – and waiting to find out if the Louisiana courts will process his latest appeal, he and Jackie are looking for land where they can build his house.
“I am so pleased to have Herman’s House premiere at Hot Docs, a festival I have attended for years and am so honored to now participate in,” says director Angad Bhalla. “Making this film showed me how our imaginations can resist even the most brutal forms of punishment. Though the film is finished, the story is not, and I hope viewers experiencing Herman and Jackie’s journey will help us start looking at prisons differently.”
There are 2.2 million people in jail in the U.S. More than 80,000 of those are in solitary confinement. Herman Wallace has been there longer than anyone – 40 years and counting.
In Herman’s House we meet self-confessed “stick-up kid” Michael Musser, who credits Herman for helping him turn his life around while in solitary; Herman’s sister Vickie, a loyal and tireless supporter despite her own emotional burden; and former long-term solitary inmate and fellow Black Panther activist Robert King who, along with Herman and Albert Woodfox, was one of the so-called Angola 3 that became a cause celebre in the 2000s.
“I’m not a lawyer and I’m not rich and I’m not powerful, but I’m an artist,” Jackie says. “And I knew the only way I could get (Herman) out of prison was to get him to dream.”
With compassion and meaningful artistry, Herman’s House takes us inside the lives and imaginations of two unforgettable characters–forging a friendship and building a dream in the struggle to end the “cruel and unusual punishment” of long-term solitary confinement.
A companion web-based interactive project entitled “Inside Herman’s House” is currently being produced with the award-winning National Film Board of Canada Interactive – a world leader in interactive narrative story-telling and winner of over 20 awards. “Inside Herman’s House” is slated for release in Fall 2012.
Herman’s House was produced by Storyline Entertainment, and Time of Day Productions, in association with the Ford Foundation JustFilms initiative, and with the support of the Ontario Arts Council, the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program, Jerome Foundation, SVT and the McAlpin Family. The producers further acknowledge the support of the following organizations: Axyz FX, BRITDOC Foundation Good Pitch Silverdocs, Hamptons International Film Festival, Hot Docs Forum, IFP, POV, Sheffield Doc/Fest, and Tribeca Film Institute.