We present, in the ABINGDON ARTS FESTIVAL, a film screening jointly with Amnesty International Abingdon Group:


Venue: St Nicolas’ Church, Market Place, Abingdon at 7.45 pm.

Hard-hitting documentary examining the controversial case of Mumia Abu- Jamal, a former Black Panther Party activist who has been in prison for murder in the US since 1981, much of that time facing a death sentence. There are serious doubts about the fairness of the original trial and Mumia Abu-Jamal is currently appealing against his conviction. Amnesty international is calling for fresh trial.

The film profiles Mumia Abu-Jamal’s case through the eyes of 25-year-year-old William Francome, born on the day of Abu-Jamal’s arrest. The film also features interviews with writers Alice Walker and Noam Chomsky, as well as the musicians Mos Def, Snoop Dogg and Steve Earle.

“The film illustrates another example of the many reasons why the death penalty is never an acceptable form of punishment. Amnesty International has contributed to the making of the film, having previously called for a new trial for Mumia Abu-Jamal and we are thrilled that they have agreed to support the film as part of their ongoing worldwide campaign against capital punishment.” – Livia Firth, the film’s co-producer. (Cert 15)

Dir: Marc Evans 87 mins UK/USA 2007
Producers: Livia Firth, Nick Goodwin and Colin Firth

A collection for Amnesty will be held following the screening.
Admission: £4.50, from Frugal Food; or tel: 01235 522163; or on the door.

Programme Notes



Tuesday, 24th March 2009 at Saint Nicolas Church, Abingdon


UK/Italy 2007, 87 mins (Cert. 15)

In Prison My Whole Life is a documentary about the case, said to be well-known in the US, of Mumia Abu- Jamal who was taken into custody in 1981 on the day William Francome was born. Dubiously convicted of the murder of a policeman, he has been behind bars ever since and for most of the period has been on “death row”. Francome and the production team explore many aspects of the story and turn in a wide-ranging film that reveals disturbing aspects of the US body politic during the last forty years or so.

The film’s critical reception tended towards the negative, but one respected critic, Geoffrey Macnab, wrote fairly positively in the film trade paper, Screen Daily (25 Oct, 2007):

“At times, the film feels a little didactic. There is a sense that the film-makers are, in Francome’s own words, ‘preaching to the converted’. Nonetheless, at its best, it has an urgency and formal inventiveness reminiscent of Errol Morris’ Thin Blue Line. Evans and Francome, who co-wrote, skilfully broaden their frame of discussion. What at first appears to be a film about a single miscarriage of justice turns into a critique of authoritarianism, racism, capital punishment and police brutality in US society as a whole. Evans [… ] adds a dynamism to the material that more traditional documentaries on similar subjects have often lacked. Meanwhile, Francome has a personable quality that you wouldn’t necessarily find in a film narrated by an ‘expert'” (

Well, one person’s “didacticism” is another’s “commitment”. Be that as it may, what space is there for films such as this, if cinemas and the main TV channels are not interested? One answer, as you will see when the credits roll, is the internet (here MySpace); another is championing by organisations such as Amnesty – very strong championing indeed in this instance, as you will learn tonight.

There will be a collection in support of the work of Amnesty International after the screening.

The production features Mumia Abu-Jamal, William Francome,Alice Walker, Noam Chomsky, Mos Def, Snoop Dog and Steve Earle.

Director – Marc Evans
Producers – Livia Giuggioli Firth and Nick Goodwin Self
Writers – Marc Evans, William Francome and Katie Green
Original Music – Neil Davidge
Songs – Snoop Dogg
Cinematography – Ari Issler
Editor – Mags Arnold


“Wonderful in conception (but) rather hard to grasp at times, with over-clever camera work and unclear articulation (to European ears) of spoken and sung words.”

“A bold yet lengthy cinematic argument”


A:4, B:3, C:0, D:0, E:0 to give 89%