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A man wears a G4S branded hat with the slogan "care and justice" beneath the logo. He is looking to his right.

Prison for Profit

All Equal? Truth To Power

Wed 16 September - Sun 27 September

Subtitles Closed Captions

Film Synopsis: Prison for Profit

Director: Ilse van Velzen, Femke Van Velzen | Countries of production: Netherlands | Year: 2019 | Length: 84 min
Language: English, Afrikaans with English subtitles | Age: 15+ years


When Mangaung prison opened in 2001 in South Africa, its operator – British private security firm G4S – promised a state-of-the-art correctional facility for its 3,000 prisoners – delivered at the lowest cost. Accounts emanating from the prison soon painted a different story: overworked, underpaid and hampered by a failing infrastructure, guards feared for their lives while prisoners faced violence, neglect and even torture.

Prison for Profit follows journalist Ruth Hopkins as she investigates the consequences of prison privatisation in South Africa. Through leaked surveillance video footage and conversations with whistleblowers, former inmates and wardens, she lays bare the damning cost of abandoning rehabilitation in favour of profits.

It is to directors Ilse and Femke Van Velzen’s credit that such a hard-hitting account of dehumanisation leaves the viewer in awe of the courage and humanity of those who dare to speak out – and fired up to support them in pushing for reform.

Content notes:
Contains discussions, testimonies and footage of violence and torture.

Screening as part of TOAFF20

Beyond the Screen


The Black Lives Matter movement has brought criminal justice – and prison abolition in particular – to public attention. Systemic reforms have been called for, and the understanding of the wider ramifications of our penal system is growing. Meanwhile, the UK government continues to outsource millions of pounds worth of public service contracts in detention and rehabilitation, social care, health and the euphemistically named “immigration removal centres” to firms such as G4S and Serco, despite damning reports of abuse, human rights violations and widespread fraud, in the UK and in countries such as South Africa. How can we reform the system and hold these corporations – and the governments that appoint them – to account? Join directors Ilse and Femke van Velzen live at 20:30 on Saturday 26th September in conversation with campaigner Johnbosco Nwogbo from We Own It to explore opportunities for action.

All our Q&As are free to attend, though pre-registration is required.

Booking Information

How to watch
This film is available to watch at any time between 00:00 on 16 September and 23:59 on 27 September.

To enjoy the full “live screening” experience, we recommend you:

  1. Book your ticket for the film in advance
  2. Register your place for the live Q&A on Sat 26 September
  3. On  Sat 26 September, start playing the film at 7.00pm
  4. Join us for the live Q&A straight after, at 8.30pm

Ticket prices
Digital events still require a lot of work behind the scenes, and hosting digital screenings incurs significant costs. To reflect this, our recommended ticket price is £7, however we are operating a “sliding scale” ticket policy (thanks to SQIFF for leading the way) whereby audience members choose what to pay based on personal circumstances, from £2 upwards.  We don’t ask for any proof or ID – we just ask you to please be honest, so that this model can be sustainable for us as a small independent charity. For further guidance on price levels, please refer to this document, or the image below:

We don’t want price to be a barrier to access our festival. If you require free access, please contact [email protected], indicating the title of the film you wish to watch.

All live workshops and Q&As will be free to access.


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