Review The Art of Incarceration – showing another side of the world “Down Under”


The incarceration of Indigenous peoples is a growing crisis. This documentary film explores their life behind bars and how art saves them.

The Netflix documentary film The Art of Incarceration was released on the streaming service on July 3, 2022.

Netflix released The art of incarceration, a documentary film that tells the stories of prisoners at Victoria Fulham Correctional Centre. We follow prisoners’ questions about their cultural identity and healing as they prepare for life in the new world outside their prison walls. This documentary The film is directed by Alex Siddons and written by Christopher Austin, Alex Siddons and Robby Wirramanda and is approximately one hour and twenty minutes long. Filled with information, time flew watching, and I could have easily watched more.

Through this documentary film, we explore how art and culture can empower Australia’s First Nations people and change their unjust cycles of imprisonment. After 40 years of campaigning, inmates can sell their artwork to help pay for their lives outside prison walls. Art can help them retain their expressive individuality and creativity. This gives them a focused and calming environment. Unlike the violent prison stories we’re used to seeing, this documentary film presents a kinder, more creative, almost liberating prison, with prisoners who are not chained, who are vulgar, but who create art and try to go back to their roots. .

It’s told by Jack Charles, who is a 78-year-old Australian Aboriginal actor, musician, potter and elder. Jack Charles was a victim of the Australian government’s forced assimilation program which separated him from his mother as a child. He was raised at the Salvation Army boys’ home in Box Hill, suburban Melbourne, where he was the only Aboriginal child and was sexually abused. His calm, serious voice reads the facts throughout the documentary and discusses the terrifying reality of why and how Indigenous people spend so much of their lives in prison.

The contrast between the crimes they are raised with and commit, and the beautiful art they can create, is quite heartbreaking. These people have the capacity and the right to be creative and benevolent souls, but their history, their country has set them in check. As we pass through beautiful landscapes, learn about their history, their heritage and hear their hope for the future, I cannot help but be saddened that they may find themselves in the prison paint, as their lives in indoors seems much easier than their life outdoors.

With real footage and honest interviews throughout, their art is brought together for a ‘confined exhibition’ – this event gives prisoners something to seek out and look forward to. We are exposed to a range of different art projects and what inspired them. This exhibition brought people together and gave them positive experiences in what is a dark time and situation.

Overall this documentary is a powerful and educational watch. I learned a lot and my eyes were opened to something happening in the world right now that I knew nothing about. This documentary explores a dark past of sunny and fun Australia and yet sends a positive message of hope and progress. Once back in society, we know the hard work and healing continues and it’s not easy. I hope these people can find peace and a place outside the prison walls.

What did you think of the Netflix documentary film The Art of Incarceration? Comments below.

You can watch this documentary with a Netflix subscription.

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