Not straight up "Soul Food" here, but a film that fascinates me nevertheless. THE great This American Life episode of all time has to be ACT V (you can stream or download it here), about a production of Hamlet in a maximum security penitentiary. Now the Taviani brothers have a faux-documentary about a production of Julius Caesar in Rome's high security Rebibbia prison.
Caesar Must Die
June 20 24 25 27 @ 7pm
Filmed in a documentary style in Rome’s high security Rebibbia prison, the movie chronicles a production of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar performed by the inmates just a few miles from where the Roman emperor was assassinated. The actors are real life murderers, mafiosi and drug dealers, and their performances slip subtly between Shakespeare’s text and their own contemporary argot, blurring the lines (literally) between past and present, art and life… But complicating things even further, the Tavianis scripted everything, off-stage as well as on, so what we take for "reality" is every bit as artificial as the play itself - and just as true.
"Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar usually runs about two-and-a-half hours uncut. Italian directors Paolo and Vittorio Taviani’s tale of a prison-based production of the classic runs 74 minutes. Yet the film gets on screen not only the play’s bloody, double-dealing, hungry essence, but the redemptive potential of art... Such is literature’s power that the cast is more at ease portraying ancient Romans than speaking as versions of themselves. Muses the man playing Julius Caesar, 'To think I found this so boring in school.'" Farrah Smith Nehme, New York Post
"At once ancient and dangerously new." Anthony Lane, New Yorker