Cocaine Prison

  • Violeta Ayala
  • Bolivia, Australia, France, United States
  • 2017
  • 76 min
  • European Premiere
  • Best of Fests
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In Bolivia, the big drug barons go free while small-time criminals like Hernan and Mario can spend years in the overcrowded San Sebastian Prison. They haven’t even been convicted yet, and their trial is postponed over and over again. Outside the prison walls, the teenage Deisy works with lawyers to get her brother Hernan released. Or maybe she'll get him out by smuggling cocaine herself, just one time, in order to pay his bail. This calm, almost fiction-film-style story gives names and faces to the errand boys of the drug trade. Footage of Deisy’s powerless search for justice is interspersed with scenes from life in jail: with its 700 inmates and just eight toilets, it seems more like an overflowing slum. Director Violeta Ayala managed to smuggle cameras into the jail, which her protagonists use to film poignant scenes. Will this hopeless situation ever end? The hypocrisy of the drug economy is demonstrated most obscenely by the realization that these young men will soon go to work on an entirely legal coca plantation. 


  • 76 min
  • color
  • DCP
  • Spoken languages: Spanish, Quechua
  • Subtitles in: English
Violeta Ayala
Daniel Fallshaw for UNF Pty Ltd, Redelia Shaw for United Notions Film LLC, Violeta Ayala for Pinches Gringos
The Inmates of San Sebastian Prison, Daniel Fallshaw
Deborah Dickson, Daniel Fallshaw, Lizi Gelber, Pauline Dairou
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IDFA history

European Premiere
Best of Fests
Supported with €30000 for Europe: Distribution for International Co-production
Supported with €5000 for Classic: Development

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IDFA history