Punishment Park

May 03

(Peter Watkins, US & UK, 1971, 91 min)

Nixon rules, and dissent has been criminalized, with dissenters forced in front of citizens’ tribunals and given the choice between jail time or traversing a punishing desert to their freedom. Director Peter Watkins (The War Game) stages this future/present in the form of a report by a foreign news crew, who document the grueling park runs and hostile tribunal sessions, improvised by non-professionals playing variations on their real selves. A brilliant and bruising work, Punishment Park is a prescient report from America’s fault lines by one of cinema’s foremost political filmmakers.

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