Prison-based gerrymandering on the big screen

by Peter Wagner, April 21, 2010  

screen shots from Gerrymandering film Prison-based gerrymandering is one of the types of gerrymandering discussed in a new documentary premiering next week in New York City.

In February, I traveled with Director Jeff Reichert and Field Producer Susan Bryant to Anamosa Iowa where 96% of a city council district was incarcerated. We meet the City Councilor who won the election with only 2 votes cast, and we discuss why the City changed its form of government to eliminate the prison district.

The film, which will be released nation-wide later this year, is being premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City next week. The film traces the history of manipulating political boundaries to influence elections, starting at the nation’s founding through today’s high-stakes computer-aided mapping battles. Interviews in the film include Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gray Davis, and Howard Dean, and two of our colleagues on prison-based gerrymandering, Susan Lerner of Common Cause New York and Justin Levitt of the Brennan Center for Justice.

Don’t take my word for it that the film is good for you. It’s fun, too:

“Surprisingly bi-partisan, this sharp documentary convincingly argues that the shady process of gerrymandering (politicians carving up districts in order to maintain power) makes a mockery of democracy—with confirmation from both sides of the political divide. Somehow, out of all that depressing news comes an exceptionally entertaining film.” —Bilge Ebiri, New York Magazine


  • Tue, Apr 27, 6:00PM
    Village East Cinema 1
    World Premiere!
    Elena Lavarreda and Olivia Cummings from the Prison Policy Initiative will be in attendance.
  • Wed, Apr 28, 5:30PM
    Village East Cinema 3
    Peter Wagner and Aleks Kajstura from the Prison Policy Initiative will be in attendance.
  • Fri, Apr 30, 7:00PM
    Clearview Chelsea Cinema 8
  • Sat, May 01, 10:00PM
    Clearview Chelsea Cinema 8

You can order tickets on the Tribeca Film Festival website.

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  • September 21, 2016:
    Executive Director Peter Wagner will be speaking at Claremont McKenna College in California. Details TBA.

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