About the Film

American Chain Gang, a feature length documentary, profiles the experiences of the prisoners and officers of the recently revived male chain gang and the world's first female chain gang.

This film examines the conditions of these people as they participate in these intense and highly controversial programs. American Chain Gang, investigates the impact of the controversial practice of chaining inmates during forced chained labor. Five prisoners and two officers are profiled before, during and after their release from the chain gang, thus documenting the true impact of the modern chain gang.

The documentary investigates this controversial prison policy through the words and actions of those who it most effects. By giving equal time to both prisoners and corrections officials, the film provides an objective perspective of these environments. However, by presenting the long term effects of this publicity-driven and punitive practice, it ultimately documents the consequent futility and hostility of this controversial prison policy.

Critic's Praise for American Chain Gang

"American Chain Gang is a bracing look at the resurgence of the work-detail in prisons, stopping first with the sweat-dripping all male chain gangs out straight out of Jim Crow before moving on to innovations like an all female gang in Arizona, a dubious first in the history of corrections."
-- Gary Dauphin, The Village Voice

"Irving's documentary offers sad evidence of the increasing mean-spiritedness of American penology."
-- Steven Holden, The New York Times

"Sharply crafted," "American Chain Gang is a powerful, disturbing documentary about a practice that makes certain corners of the United States seem as enlightened as the Soviet Gulag."
-- Godfrey Cheshire, New York Press

"Irving gives to his first feature-length film a true grasp of documentary style, economical and tough. His film provide an unblinking look at a harsh world that many of us never give much thought to, let alone see."
-- Jerry Renshaw, Austin Chronicle

Irving (pictured with camera) and his crew spent 11 weeks with chain gang inmates in
Alabama and Arizona to make American Chain Gang

Principal Crew List:

Director: Xackery Irving
Producer: Xackery Irving
Executive Producer: Carole Dean
Camera: Xackery Irving
Editors: Ian Rummer ,Stephanie Casey, Xackery Irving
Additional Editing: David Elo-Dean, Michael Gallaway,
Kevin McGuinness, John Naughton, Ian Rummer, Wes Sandel
Production Consultant: George Stoney


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