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Sunday, July 07, 2013

What Is Herman's House?

Tomorrow night PBS is premiering Herman's House, a POV documentary by Angad Singh Bhalla that looks at the relationship between convict Herman Wallace and artist Jackie Sumell.

Here's the trailer:

And here's the short description:
Herman Wallace may be the longest-serving prisoner in solitary confinement in the United States—he's spent more than 40 years in a 6-by-9-foot cell in Louisiana. Imprisoned in 1967 for a robbery he admits, he was subsequently sentenced to life for a killing he vehemently denies. Herman's House is a moving account of the remarkable expression his struggle found in an unusual project proposed by artist Jackie Sumell. Imagining Wallace's "dream home" began as a game and became an interrogation of justice and punishment in America. The film takes us inside the duo's unlikely 12-year friendship, revealing the transformative power of art. [full description]
Herman's House


  1. Although the premise behind this project is quite moving, I wonder why the artist chose to start a communiqué with Herman in the first place. It will be interesting to see how the documentary progresses and what finally happens to Jackie, Herman and if the house gets finished. In my opinion, maybe Jackie should work towards making the house a centre for troubled youth – she’ll have better luck accumulating funds and Herman will have something to live for when he gets out of prison.

  2. What the artist should have asked him was WHAT would he do that could serve the under-privileged in his community if he didn’t spend most of his life in prison. Having a dream house is probably the last thing on his mind – no matter how small a cell he was holed up in. I think it was her own dream she imposed on him; having never been isolated from the rest of the world, she could never understand Herman’s thought process or his heart.


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