In Venezuela in April 2002, a massacre took place in Puente Llaguno, where 19 people died and 28 were wounded. Police chief Iván Simonovis was convicted to 30 years in prison for the events. My Father’s Prison is directed by Simonovis’ son, named Iván after his father. According to the family, the father went to prison despite being innocent.
Still, My Father’s Prison is not a film that attempts to prove the innocence of the accused man. Moreso, it is a family portrait that paints a picture of the Venezuelan police chief as a relatable, ordinary person who has faced a great injustice.
The film goes through Venezuelan near history just enough that the audience can understand the context of the events. The focus is mainly on the family life and troubles of the director and his father. During the film, we see childhood videos, birthday parties, and prison visits.
My Father’s Prison consists mainly of home videos, which brings an intimate atmosphere to the viewing experience. It feels like we are close to the family in their joys and sorrows. The film’s homemade nature is a part of its aesthetic power. We get to see Venezuela and its cities from the point of view of an inhabitant, in the streets, in the homes, and thanks to drones, also up in the air.
Juhana Pettersson (translated by Inari Ylinen)