US Navy Memorial Heritage Center
Washington , DC
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Directed by Noel Schwerin

IDEAL WORLD follows a warden, a white separatist and a black gangbanger for seven years as they struggle to move beyond the stark reality of America's locked down racial order. Challenged for the first time by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling and a novel mixed race program, their stories reveal the institutional nature of racial hierarchies and the hidden risks of transformative change.

A veteran Warden now embraces integration, believing now that decades of official segregation undermined safety. Yet staff and inmate pushback, budget woes and an escape attempt sorely test his commitment. "We may have shot ourselves in the foot when we started this."

For white inmate John, segregation means dominance. "For us, it's power. The courts have taken away our freedom so we strike back amongst ourselves." In for murder, John is "shotcaller" for the whites. "We live by a convict code, and when rules are broken, it's violent." But John's accidental participation in the workshop is challenging. Can he give up power to coexist?

For black inmate Sam, the path is clear. Convicted of a gang murder, Sam eventually became a model prisoner: "The person that sits here is not the same 18-year-old kid. I wasn't't a man by no measure at 18." Sam values integration but it is also a Catch-22. If he resists integration, he faces parole denial. If he disobeys his group's rules, "Prison justice will find me."

It is the story of the human drama at the core of an American crisis.


US Navy Memorial Heritage Center (View)
701 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington , DC 20004
United States


Film > Festivals
Film > Movies
Film > Premiers

Kid Friendly: Yes!
Dog Friendly: No
Non-Smoking: Yes!
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes!