Filmmaker’s Name and Title: Writer/Director Derek J. Pastuszek
Producers: Cedric Gamelin, Fabrizio Muscia, Halee Bernard
Film Name: [solitary]
Length of film: 16:40
Genre: drama/social issues
In 50 words or less, what’s this film about?
[solitary] is an exploration of the well-hidden practice of solitary confinement within the US prison complex – through drama, plunging into the darkness to examine its many effects on the human spirit. Across the country, close to 100,000 men, women, even juveniles spend each of their days inside cells barely bigger than a porta-potty. Damaged... Deteriorating... Alone.
What inspired you to make this film?
I set out to make this film with the hopes of shining a light into the shadows; to provide a voice for the voiceless. I've had family members (most notably, my cousin) go through the hell of solitary, only to be chewed up and spat out by the American prison system. And after our lead actor, Kofi Bamfo, revealed his own personal connection with the story, we knew we had our man. Throughout the process, we've also worked closely with various organizations -- including the ACLU and SolitaryWatch -- who connected us to many ex-cons with stories to tell from 'the hole.' If anything, I hope this film can take a stand for them -- people who've never had anyone take a stand on their behalf. As a young artist who'd been gifted a relatively cushy upbringing, I saw the chance to utilize my voice and vision to tell a story that could both challenge and inspire -- polarize and unite -- paralyze and provoke an audience. For me, there's nothing greater than creating something that sparks an important conversation.
Name your Top 3 Films of All Time:
What’s your connection to Mississippi?  (If you don’t have one, why did you apply to a Mississippi festival?)
Our goal is to share this film with as wide of an audience as possible, in as many places as possible. In our minds, everyone, at least (but not only) in America, has a connection in some way to the expansive prison system our country has fed into magnitude -- and Mississippi surely is no exception to that. We're honored to bring our film to Mississippi audiences.