A feature documentary by united notions film
From inside one of Bolivia's notorious jails.

COCAINE PRISON

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About the film

From inside one of Bolivia’s notorious prisons, a cocaine worker, a drug mule, and his little sister question the world’s relationship with cocaine.

 

COCAINE PRISON begins in Bolivia’s notorious San Sebastian prison, a virtual citadel inside a crumbling old colonial house and follows the interlinked lives of Hernan, a drug mule who  dreams of being a drug boss, his younger sister, Daisy, who struggles to escape the lure to  traffic cocaine and Hernan’s friend, Mario, a cocaine worker fighting for freedom. In a country where the cocaine trade isn’t ruled by violence, these three small fish dispel the gun toting Narco myth and put into perspective the drug war and the lives of the ‘disposable’ people.

In Cochabamba, Bolivia, the children “swim” excitedly in huge piles of coca leaves, like the Ball Room in a McDonald’s play area. Mediums tell fortunes by reading the leaves. When they grow older, the children help harvest the coca plants.

The relationship between the coca plant and cocaine is akin to grapes and wine. While growing a certain amount of coca leaves is legal, making, taking or transporting cocaine isn’t.

Amid this conundrum, teenagers may be paid $100 to transport cocaine, risking arrest and years in the notorious San Sebastian Prison. This is the life on display in Cocaine Prison, where the boundaries of legality are blurred, in a country where the coca crop by product all but props up a “grey market” economy.

Needing to pay lip service to the U.S. War on Drugs, the Bolivian government enforces drug laws, which allows it to charge powerless drug workers while often turning a blind eye to powerful “big fish.” As a result, half of all prison inmates in Bolivia are in for minor drug offences.

In her film, Indigenous filmmaker Violeta Ayala puts a human face three of them in fact on the vicious circle of life in and outside the notorious San Sebastian Prison. Cocaine Prison follows Deisy, a teenager who struggles to escape the lure to traffic cocaine, her brother Hernan, arrested with two kilos of cocaine near the Argentinian border, and his best friend Mario, a cocaine worker fighting for freedom.

Not a stereotypical prison, San Sebastian is more of an overcrowded, government run slum holding 700 people, most of them in legal limbo. Ayala and filmmaker partner Dan Fallshaw, managed to smuggle in cameras to various inmates. As a result, Cocaine Prison is a rare case of a prison documentary partially shot by the inmates themselves.

The twists of the tale are almost movie like, with Daisy mulling a devil or angel choice of freeing her brother by becoming a “mule” herself, or cooperating with authorities seeking her testimony against her boss.

When you see what Deisy, Hernan and Mario are up against, the price of hypocrisy in the drug war is obvious and real.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See the Film

Cocaine Prison is showing at the Double Exposure Festival

Cocaine Prison at Reform Conference in Atlanta

Cocaine Prison at Camden International Film Festival

Cocaine Prison premieres at Toronto International Film Festival

PHOTOS

FILMMAKERS

COCAINE PRISON is the first film that links cocaine and poverty in the North and the South, exposing how the cycle of exclusion, discrimination and injustice come full circle at both ends of the cocaine trade.

Here is the team behind the film.

 

VIOLETA AYALA

VIOLETA AYALA

Director/Writer AND PRODUCER

Is an award-winning indigenous filmmaker, artist, writer and fighter born in Bolivia. Her credits include Cocaine Prison (TIFF 2017), The Fight (The Guardian 2017),The Bolivian Case (Special Presentation Hot Docs 2015) and STOLEN (TIFF 2009).

DAN FALLSHAW

DAN FALLSHAW

Producer/Cinematographer and Editor

Is an award-winning filmmaker born in Australia, who makes films to shift the balance of power. He co-directed STOLEN (2009) and The Fight (2017). His producing credits include The Bolivian Case (2015) and Cocaine Prison (2017).

REDELIA SHAW

REDELIA SHAW

Us Producer

Is an American Producer with over fifteen years of professional experience in commercial, independent television and film projects.

CEDRIC BONIN

CEDRIC BONIN

Co-Producer

Co-Producer: Cedric Bonin is a graduated from Business School Montpellier. He worked as a production assistant for Ex-Nihilo and distribution company Doc and Co. Since 2002, he joined Seppia and develops documentaries, TV programs and international co-productions.

LIZI GELBER

LIZI GELBER

Editor

Lizi has edited feature films with Robert Altman (Ready to wear), Jean-Marie Poiré (Les Visiteurs), Roland Joffé (Fat Man and Little Boy with Paul Newman) and Michael Cimino (The Sicilian) and documentaries, Va’pensiero – Storie ambulanti (directed by Dagmawi Yimer), and Land Rush (by directors Hugo Berkeley and Osvalde Lewat). Lizi’s credits include The Agronomist and Un temps de Président.

THOMAS ROBERT

THOMAS ROBERT

Sound Designer

Thomas Robert is a French sound designer and editor. His credits include, Winter Sleep and Once Upon a Time in Anatolia.

SIMON WALBROOK

SIMON WALBROOK

Composer

Has worked as a Composer and Sound Designer for Film and Television since 2010. His credits include Cocaine Prison, Antunez House, The Bolivian Case, Tanna, Cloudstreet, These Final Hours, 100 Bloody Acres, The Mule and many others. In 2012, he won an AFI/AACTA Award for his work on the music documentary “Murundak, Songs of Freedom.”

JEAN GUY VERAN

JEAN GUY VERAN

Sound

Jean-Guy Véran is a French sound explorer. He uses his creativity to give depth and life to the images. His extensive list of credits speaks for it self.

CRISTIAN ANTELO

CRISTIAN ANTELO

Online Media Manager

Cristian has an MBA and is quickly becoming a documentary film devotee. He’s busy developing, designing and creating all our new websites.

VIOLETA AYALA

VIOLETA AYALA

Director/Writer AND PRODUCER

Is an award-winning indigenous filmmaker, artist, writer and fighter born in Bolivia. Her credits include Cocaine Prison (TIFF 2017), The Fight (The Guardian 2017),The Bolivian Case (Special Presentation Hot Docs 2015) and STOLEN (TIFF 2009).

DAN FALLSHAW

DAN FALLSHAW

Producer/Cinematographer and Editor

Is an award-winning filmmaker born in Australia, who makes films to shift the balance of power. He co-directed STOLEN (2009) and The Fight (2017). His producing credits include The Bolivian Case (2015) and Cocaine Prison (2017).

REDELIA SHAW

REDELIA SHAW

Us Producer

Is an American Producer with over fifteen years of professional experience in commercial, independent television and film projects.

CEDRIC BONIN

CEDRIC BONIN

Co-Producer

Co-Producer: Cedric Bonin is a graduated from Business School Montpellier. He worked as a production assistant for Ex-Nihilo and distribution company Doc and Co. Since 2002, he joined Seppia and develops documentaries, TV programs and international co-productions.

LIZI GELBER

LIZI GELBER

Editor

Lizi has edited feature films with Robert Altman (Ready to wear), Jean-Marie Poiré (Les Visiteurs), Roland Joffé (Fat Man and Little Boy with Paul Newman) and Michael Cimino (The Sicilian) and documentaries, Va’pensiero – Storie ambulanti (directed by Dagmawi Yimer), and Land Rush (by directors Hugo Berkeley and Osvalde Lewat). Lizi’s credits include The Agronomist and Un temps de Président.

THOMAS ROBERT

THOMAS ROBERT

Sound Designer

Thomas Robert is a French sound designer and editor. His credits include, Winter Sleep and Once Upon a Time in Anatolia.

SIMON WALBROOK

SIMON WALBROOK

Composer

Has worked as a Composer and Sound Designer for Film and Television since 2010. His credits include Cocaine Prison, Antunez House, The Bolivian Case, Tanna, Cloudstreet, These Final Hours, 100 Bloody Acres, The Mule and many others. In 2012, he won an AFI/AACTA Award for his work on the music documentary “Murundak, Songs of Freedom.”

JEAN GUY VERAN

JEAN GUY VERAN

Sound

Jean-Guy Véran is a French sound explorer. He uses his creativity to give depth and life to the images. His extensive list of credits speaks for it self.

CRISTIAN ANTELO

CRISTIAN ANTELO

Online Media Manager

Cristian has an MBA and is quickly becoming a documentary film devotee. He’s busy developing, designing and creating all our new websites.

MEDIA

REVIEWS

“Truly Unique” 
VICE

“Compellingly Kafkaesque”
FILMMAKER MAGAZINE

“Heartbreaking and Indicting”
CINEMA TROPICAL

“A genuine and humanizing portrait of the marginalized convicts”
POV MAGAZINE

One of this year’s most striking testimonial films”
THE GLOBE AND MAIL

“Passionate, compelling and fascinating documentary that will push audiences to explore the idea of a legalized drug industry”
SHE DOES THE CITY

“Cocaine Prison is pretty incredible”
NONFICS

“Truly jawdropping story of injustice”
THE MOVEABLE FEST

Ayala’s film seeks to impress upon our humanity with examples of broken lives” 
THE FILM STAGE

“Fascinating and heartbreaking”
IN REVIEW

“Powerful and moving”
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PRESS KIT

Download press kit and photos in the link below

PRESS KIT

 

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