A rare opportunity to see this controversial film. Viewed as an indictment against America, Punishment Park was heavily attacked on its release in 1971 with Hollywood studios refusing to distribute it. At the height of protests over the war in Vietnam, arrested protestors and political agitators are offered the choice between long prison sentences or three days in Punishment Park detention camp.
Watkins utilises the drama-documentary technique to create a startling sense of reality that makes this film disturbing viewing. He uses real protestors and activists to play the prisoners, a number of ex-law enforcement officers to play police and extensive, inventively guided improvisation during the film. With strong resonances to the current US policy in Guantanamo Bay, Punishment Park remains pertinent and prescient.