PRISON SYSTEM 4614 | SUFF

Yet another review from the splendid SUFF – SYDNEY UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL, I do believe this is the last one. Sadly the festival for 2015 is now finished but we still have a few reviews to get up. It ran from September 17th to 20th at The Factory Theatre in Marrickville and showcased some EPIC independent content. You can stalk them on Facebook HERE to stay in tune for when they release next year’s schedule.

To follow on from our SUFF reviews from the festival; WHAT LOLA WANTSPEACE OFFICERKILLSWITCHJESUS TOWNTHOUGHT CRIMES, HELLIONSTHEY LOOK LIKE PEOPLE and WE ARE TWISTED FUCKING SISTER, we have PRISON SYSTEM 4614, a totally fucked up documentary about a private prison for people who have sexual or otherwise fantasies and want to be locked up and tortured for fun. Special thanks to the peeps at Kabuku PR for getting us involved in what was a spectacular discovery of movies.

Enjoy Kernel Jordan’s review…….all the best…….JK.

 

PRISON SYSTEM 4614 MOVIE POSTER IMAGE
PRISON SYSTEM 4614 | SYDNEY UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | MOVIE POSTER IMAGE

 

BY JORDAN DODD

Not knowing what I was about to watch made this documentary even more shocking than it would have been otherwise, as I didn’t know the context of the opening scene. Not knowing the context, when a movie opens with a man waterboarding (or a similar sort of technique) another man, who is naked and has his legs and his wrists shackled, it can be quite the startling image. A man dressed in military colours is torturing this man, demanding an answer, demanding a name. It is a memorable and confronting way to begin a film, and it isn’t a scene that is easily forgotten.

It soon becomes apparent that this is not your average documentary. We have no narration to speak of, leaving the viewer to figure out just exactly what is happening. It was only thanks to some background information I read afterwards that I know what exactly was transpiring on-screen, but this still is a sparse and confusing documentary. Not necessarily in the bad way, but one needs to get over the taboo nature of what the prison represents before properly judging it.

 

PRISON SYSTEM 4614 MOVIE IMAGE
PRISON SYSTEM 4614 | SYDNEY UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | CLIENT IN A CELL

 

This has been described as a documentary portrait and I would agree with that notion, as it is a documentary with little input from the filmmakers, letting the atmosphere of the prison wash over the viewer. A couple of times a prisoner talks to the camera and answers a few questions, but for the most part this is a fly on the wall documentary. The only exceptions are when the man who built the place, and his partner/assistant, address the camera, telling us exactly what is going on.

Arwed, the man dressed in military colours, is the man who runs the camp. His prison is extremely different from any other, as it is a place where men can voluntarily admit themselves so they can lose themselves in their fetishes. He and partner Dennis find numerous ways to torture and humiliate their visitors; in any way that they desire. We are told by a prisoner, and also Arwed, that there is no hatred between the two parties. The prisoner simply sees the prison as a way out; a type of holiday, where he can let go of his daily routine and enjoy his bondage fetish. Spending every day in handcuffs and leg irons, being tied up in straight-jackets, being whipped, these are just a few of the leisurely activities on offer here, and all the prisoners seem perfectly willing and happy to be treated like this. Despite the knowledge that they are willing prisoners, many of the images here can be hard to watch.

Two factors made this an extremely fascinating watch for me. Firstly, the fact that the wardens themselves are into bondage and therefore have an empathic way in which they treat the prisoners. One almost gets the sense that they care about them, as they are always making sure that the person is safe and knows the ‘safe word’ if he wants to stop or leave altogether the place completely. These ‘safe’ aspects seem to completely contradict the images that are appearing on-screen, but it is a fascinating element to the story. I don’t think a person without empathy could run such a place. In fact it surprises me that such a place exists if I am honest.

 

PRISON SYSTEM 4614 MOVIE IMAGE
PRISON SYSTEM 4614 | SYDNEY UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | CLIENT IN A CELL

 

The other issue that fascinated me was the mental state of the prisoners. One has to wonder if some of these people are capable of giving informed consent for something as extreme as this treatment. The prisoners walked awkwardly, talked awkwardly… There was very much a sense that these people had some type of mental issue, which could mean that some of the prisoners residing here simply don’t know how to leave. Or perhaps they don’t think leaving is a possibility? One prisoner is interviewed and he describes the trip as a holiday, which forces the viewer to question – how can such a situation be seen as a holiday? Is this man well?

This film was apparently filmed over one week, and the documentary flows seamlessly despite the complete lack of moving shots or sound effects. We find out from Arwed that ‘prison’ is a tiny percentage of the S&M scene, and he is only too happy to provide a place for people who share this fetish. I say share as Arwed himself dabbles in ‘self-bondage’ – sleeping every night in a cage that he has had built for his partner and himself. This is where the empathy comes from, making the relationship between warden and prisoner thought-provoking to say the least.

While extremely fringe, this documentary succeeds in painting a picture of what the atmosphere inside this place is like. I am no bondage or S&M expert, but I sure as hell did not know that being treated as a prisoner fell under that umbrella! I respect this film and its director for showing such raw and taboo footage without hesitation.

 

3 and a Half Pops

 

 

Kernel Jordan is a professional obsessionist, ‘writer’ of the truth and untruth, movie-review enthusiast, drummer, epileptic and bi-polar alien from a place far away….. He can also be stalked at his own site HERE.