Prison Valley, a documentary by David Dufresne & Philippe Brault, is a haunting view of a one of America’s greatest distopias.

From the introduction: “Welcome to Cañon City, Colorado. A prison town where even those living on the outside live on the inside. A journey into what the future might hold.”

16% of the Cañon City population is inside prison; it is an economy based almost entirely upon incarceration.

Cañon City has a population of 36,000 and 13 prisons, one of which is Supermax, the new ‘Alcatraz’ of America. The new Supermax was described by former warden, Robert Hood, as “a clean version of hell.”

The introduction to the documentary can be a little off-putting at first. The dramatic voice-over deals in emotive-speak and apparent hyperbole. But then you realise that the presentation is not an exaggeration – that the voice-overs are only shocking because of the underlying immutable facts.

Perhaps, as outsiders, French filmmakers Dufresne & Brault are the perfect artists to bring focus upon the most forsaken branch of America’s prison industrial complex?


As well as taking on old(ish) prison subject matter in a new way, Prison Valley is purposefully designed as a web based project and “Web Documentary”. To view the film beyond its introduction you must sign in with either your Twitter or Facebook social network accounts.

Once signed in the website will bounce you between a mixture of multimedia, interviews, photo-galleries, non-sequitur video clips and auxiliary documents.

The documentary canvases opinion from various characters who the filmmakers meet along the way. The entire project is punctuated with the use of DVD-special-featuresque snippets. You can even attend a memorial ceremony for dead correctional officers.


Prison Valley blog here.