Herman’s House


First-time director Angad Singh Bhalla explores the injustice of solitary confinement and the transformative power of art with the story of Herman Wallace, one of more than 80,000 people kept in solitary confinement throughout the American prison system. Sentenced to Louisiana’s “Angola” Penitentiary in 1967 for bank robbery, Herman joined the Black Panther movement while incarcerated. In 1972, he was convicted—and, many believe, framed—for murdering a prison guard; he’s been in solitary confinement ever since. Today, Herman has spent more time in solitary than anyone in the history of American prisons.
Herman’s House follows the creative collaboration between Herman and artist Jackie Sumell as they work together to build the dream home Herman imagines from within the 6’x9’ cell where he’s lived for 40 years. Their unlikely friendship spotlights the injustices of a penal system that demonizes and brutally punishes those irrationally deemed unfit for rehabilitation.

Uniting compassion, anger and art, Herman’s House reveals the shared struggle of two people working to end the “cruel and unusual punishment” of long-term solitary confinement.

The screening is co-presented by the William H. Bronson and Grayce Slovet Mitchell Lecture Series at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. It’s the fifth screening in our monthly Image, Building, Object: Exploring Architecture and Design on Film series. Bringing an eclectic selection of documentaries, features, and vignettes to Black Cinema House, the series demystifies the process of how our objects, furniture, and buildings come into existence and simultaneously reveals how designers and architects have used film as a medium for expression and experimentation.

Herman’s House
Co-sponored by Prison and Neighborhood Arts Project
Presented by Sarah Ross

Black Cinema House
6901 S. Dorchester Ave.