The Mind of Mark Defriest (Gabriel London, 2015): USA
Reviewed by China Rose. Viewed in an advance screening.
This films opened in NYC (East Village Cinema) and LA (Laemmie Music Hall) March 6, 2015.
I never thought I would say “STOP what you are doing right now” and go see this documentary, prison film I just watched. But please STOP whatever you had plans to do and go see this harrowing, human drama, documentary film. This work of cinema is timely and relevant to anyone who cares about human rights. There is no possible way to overstate the value of having seen this film.
First let me thank the filmmakers for making this story possible. Thank you! This film is a gripping, human story and gut wrenching, true-life experience. Cleverly edited using color filters and mixed media styled as a documentary drama. This film is deeply moving. It provides us with a mind-bending moment in our history to act to protect our rights by protecting Mark.
It’s on the “mark” all right and all you have to do is watch this entertaining and engaging film to promote its human decency. If you are a creative type it will not take long for you to see what has happened here.
This is about the power of people who want to control artists and make them conform to a narrow perception of reality. And they do it with brute force and violations of human rights and dignity.
Why do people do this? I can’t say. Small-minded people with too much power perhaps. But it has happened. This is a victimless crime and the authoritative process is being using to cruelly punish rather than correct. The system has failed Mark, and also us, as public who pay to incarcerate prisoners. It’s a failure on every level and at every turn that we can correct.
As a public that incarcerates people we need to take power and control away from prison guards and parole boards that exclusively, determine the fates of individuals without due process. Most especially in instances of a Parole Board’s ego that won’t admit the error of their ways at the expense of human freedom.
The Florida Parole Board would still have Mark in prison indefinitely, was it not for the love of people who maintained a 30-year battle for Mark’s freedom and the pure-story, in it’s truest form, of this film documentary. This film is absolute living proof of that.
It also appears that as a public we need to expect more than relying on outmoded methodology by which we allow people to be imprisoned and then retained, indefinitely. It appears that some prison systems and Parole Boards have grown stale and out dated in terms of human Amnesty.
As I watched the film, I had to ask myself, if the people on the parole board ever had been faced with the loss of their freedom would they be so quick to relish this power? Would they be so obstinate in their worthless approach to reform others? Especially when the person had committed no crime or been given due process for the allegations that retained him.
Mark was never given a valid grievance process or recourse at the hands of his violators that is worthy of the punishment he received. The so-called Prison Reports do not reflect any real crime for which he could be tried.
Who among us as American’s would not fight against such tyranny? Yet these half-baked and unsubstantiated reports were used to detain his entire, personal life in prison. Would you give up your life or put your faith in this system?
Knowing that unsavory prison guards can violate prisoner’s rights, the Florida Parole Board flatly ignored that possibility and potential reality to maintain the status quo without any form of accountability or humanity. Instead this bureaucracy coupled their ignorance (or blind eye I should say) with a lack of due process as a wholesale application, in lieu of a crime, to violate Mark’s human rights.
Did you see Cool Hand Luke, a 1967 American prison drama, directed by Stuart Rosenberg and staring Paul Newman? Well I did. It was a difficult film to watch. In contrast The Mind of Mark Defriest (aka the Life of Mark Defriest or simply Inmate Defriest) is the real deal, Mark is Cool Hand Luke.
Unlike it’s predecessor, The Mind of Mark Defriest is easy to watch and simple to comprehend. Go see this film! It is a testament to the crucified, human spirit outlasting excessive torture. Help set Mark free, thank you.