documentary / France / original title : Tehachapi / Color / status : completed / English / Feature Documentary / International collections
Over three years, French photographer and artist JR developed a large-scale artwork in a maximum-security prison in California in collaboration with those incarcerated at the institution. The project shows the power of art as a tool for hope and transformation in a systemically violent carceral system.
Well-known for his collages and giving a voice to the marginalized and unseen, JR is also the co-director of the Academy Award-nominated Faces Places with Agnès Varda. Questioning the limits of the US carceral system, Tehachapi is a rare, illuminating and moving feature documentary, showing how art can be a decisive means to reintegration and rehabilitation.
“French artist JR mounts a large-scale project at the maximum security California Correctional Centre. An interesting documentary showing achieved some truly impressive results, both in terms of the artwork and the impact it had on participants. Treating these men as equals, the endearingly personable JR develops an easy rapport which, together with their creative endeavour, enables them to open up about their experiences. There is a genuine sense that this project has given them a new focus and will have a lasting impact. Tehachapi will immediately appeal to the prolific JR’s fans – a group bolstered by Faces Places, his 2017 road movie made with the late Agnes Varda. There’s a propulsive energy here, driven both by JR’s infectious energy and the interesting cast of inmates. The film will likely appeal to both festival programmers and distributors. JR gives a raw immediacy to the footage, by Filming with his phone, and does shed valuable light on the individual stories behind the statistics”