Women prisoners strike up a friendship with a young law student who works as a part-time prison guard. Together they discover that a corporation funds and is profitting from the plantation-like work environment they are forced to work under. In a botched attempt to organize a protest against their "slave labor", the women take over the prison - A rare glimpse of the effects of the prison industrial complex on female inmates. Written by
L. J. Allen-2 (Leslye Allen)
As others have stated, there is a backstory to Civil Brand that is probably more dramatic than the film itself. To sum it up in as few words as possible: Black women directors have a difficult road to travel to see a feature film made.
The film is definitely not a masterpiece, but the attempt at telling a story about African American women in prison is a great one. The film makes a point of comparing prison labor to US Slavery--and for good reason, it is certainly free labor, with poor working conditions.
The narration by Da Brat is overkill, but because many scenes were never filmed, I'm sure it was an attempt to make the story cohesive. Lisa Raye was surprisingly decent and Monica Calhoun and Lark Voorhies did what they could with their supporting roles, but N'Bushe Wright was one of the most interesting characters to watch. She has great screen presence and excellent delivery. Hopefully we're able to see more of her.
Civil Brand is not a great movie. It's filled with stereotypes and cliches--but it does bring a new and interesting point of view on women in prison. It's definitely worth renting or catching on television.
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