Lauren Muchan and Joseph Sharp’s documentary Letters to Angola tells the extraordinary story of Lauren’s unlikely pen pal, and makes for a riveting watch. Indeed, any worries that a film which focuses’ purely on letter correspondence might be visually unexciting fade away almost instantly.
The film charts the story of a budding pen-friendship between young Brit Lauren and Herman, a southern American Black Panther. Herman has been in solitary confinement in Angola Prison Louisiana for 36 years and counting, based on the most dubious of evidence.
Linda Carmichael, the director of the short, manages to cut back and forth between the spoken words of letters, gifting Lauren and Herman the chance to interrupt one another, talk over each other and engage in a free flowing conversation that temporarily dissolve the walls of Herman’s cell, bridge the Atlantic Ocean and transform the letters into warm, spoken conversation.
It’s a consistently engaging documentary about finding friendship in the strangest of places that arrives complete with an inspirational cause. Indeed, whether it is through scripts, reviews or letters of an entirely different nature, Herman’s is a cause worth writing about.