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Punishment Park

  • Directed by Peter Watkins
  • United Kingdom/United States, 1971, 91 mins., English

Highly controversial and chilling upon its initial release, Watkins’s brutal mockumentary follows two sets of anti-war protesters in an alternate version of 1970—where those deemed potential disruptors to US military ambition in Vietnam are sent to Death Valley and offered two choices: serving a full sentence in prison, or spending three days in “punishment park.” Using a vérité style and made ostensibly for a BBC-like television network, the film features interviews with both prisoners and police, Watkins ratcheting up the tension at every turn and offering surprising insight into human action as shaped by differing ideologies. A vital document of protest, Punishment Park remains “raw, bracing, visceral and confrontational . . . feels as vital today as it did back in 1971.”—Christopher Bruno, Little White Lies.

Genres: Comedy, Mockumentary