Andrew Gersh

Documentary Editor for the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond

In an Ideal World

An intimate and stirring portrait of three men on the front-lines of power and race in America, IN AN IDEAL WORLD goes deep inside a California prison to explore — and honor — the human drama at the core of America’s locked down racial order.

Shot over seven years with unlimited access, IN AN IDEAL WORLD is an immersive story told firsthand, without outside experts or narration. A white warden at ease with authority, a separatist mafioso and a black gangbanger – all three men come from different worlds. Yet all have spent their entire adult lives in prison, sharing a culture of race and power that has, in just that time, institutionalized the American racial landscape in ways that we are only beginning to understand, and that may prove very difficult to undo. Each came into the system very young, learned the convict/cop “codes” from their groups, and over three decades gained power and influence in prison. At the same time, crime control in the U.S. came to rely almost exclusively on locking people up, increasingly and disproportionately people of color.  John, Sam and the warden learned how to navigate prison’s complex, violent and deeply entrenched, racially divided culture, but now find themselves on the cusp of potentially radical change.

Produced and Directed by Noel Schwerin for Backbone Media. Read more here.

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