Finally, after decades of failed policies, the United States is starting to wise up to the unnecessarily difficult reality of life for convicts and recently returned prisoners both inside and outside the walls of our extensive prison system. But what about life in a Mexican prison? What do folks do to get by, and what kind of prospects do they face when they come home?
The answer to these questions probably depends on who you ask, but we now have a fresh and original perspective in the form of the upcoming documentary De la cana a la lleca (From the Joint to the Street). Produced by the Mexico City-based record label and production house Charco Creative Industries, De la cana a la lleca documents an inter-prison battle of the bands in which over 40 musicians currently serving sentences came together to show the world what they’ve got. The winner would ultimately be given the chance to share the mainstage at Mexico’s 2014 Vive Latino Festival with the likes of Diplo, Arcade Fire, and Ana Tijoux.
The result is a touching story of redemption and personal liberation through music, as well as a fascinating exposé of life behind the walls of a Mexican prison. Indeed, De la cana a la lleca showcases a level of access most U.S. filmmakers could only dream of, with camera crews moving freely throughout several Mexico City prisons where we see recording studios set up in bathrooms and rehearsal spaces crammed into already overstuffed cells.
What’s most interesting is ultimately how these different musicians reflect on their experiences with honesty and openness, confessing their fears, revealing their acceptance, and showing a genuine desire to be something more. No U.S. distribution details are currently available, but this one is worth keeping your eye on for video on demand or stateside release.