Prisoners from a French jail have managed to film under the watch of the guards using hidden cameras smuggled into the jail. A shocking look into the world of the French prison service.
Over an hour of footage was shot with the aid of a hidden camera smuggled into the prison. The inmates then managed to get the equipment out of the prison and into the hands of two young film producers, Omar Dawson and Karim Bellazaar, who together edited the video that we see here. A shocking inside view of the daily lives of prisoners in France: the images reveal moss-covered shower walls, less-than-basic toiletries and crammed cells. They also show us a few examples of the inventiveness of the residents. For example, the 'Yo-Yo' system, which allows inmates to pass objects from window to window using bed sheets.
Karim Bellazaar and Omar Dawson kindly offered permission for The Observer site to publish the short film. They hope it to reach as many people, particularly abroad.
Karim Bellazaar is a co-founder of Iscreen, a production company which works mainly in the poor suburbs of Paris.
Their message is simple: don't believe that that prison is a place of rehabilitation. Because - as the inmate at the end of the video explains - all sorts of people get put in the same situation in prison: bandits, professional criminals and minor delinquents. I'm always hearing people say that the suburbs are lawless places. Well so are the prisons, and they're administered by the state.
We're going to make a documentary with the rest of the images we've got. There are violent scenes, of course, but also some funny scenes. We're going to try to show the psychological violence that this self-contained world brings about. Remember they've only got an hour a day outside. What do they do the rest of the time, locked in their cells?"