I'm Short, Not Stupid Presents: 'Le Labyrinthe'

Animator Mathieu Labaye's short film 'Le Labyrinthe' attempts to portray the psychosis that occurs during solitary confinement.

by Jeffrey Bowers
Oct 29 2014, 11:00am

Solitary confinement is one of the most abhorrent practices of our prison system, in which an inmate is kept in complete isolation for 22 to 24 hours a day in a closed cells for periods of time ranging from days to decades. It's believed to increase the risk of suicide and induce hallucinations, insomnia, paranoia, and uncontrollable feelings of rage and fear. The most recent comprehensive nationwide data released on prisoners in solitary confinement programs, which was published back in 2005, estimates that 81,622 people are locked up in what jailbirds across the country affectionately call the "living death." However, Solitary Watch, a group focused on bringing more attention to the practice of solitary confinement, believes that number to be much higher today. 

Animator Mathieu Labaye's short film Le Labyrinthe attempts to portray the psychosis that occurs during solitary confinement. In the film, uneasiness and paranoia are expressed through a rapid succession of an inmate's hallucinations. His shifting face and morphing body falls apart and rebuilds worse than before. By the end you realize the film is madness incarnate—not unlike solitary confinement. 

Mathieu Labaye is an award-winning filmmaker living in Belgium and working at Camera-etc. His last film was 2008's Orgesticulanismus.

Jeffrey Bowers is a tall mustached guy from Ohio who's seen too many weird movies. He currently lives in Brooklyn, working as a film curator. He's the Senior Curator for Vimeo's On Demand platform. He has also programmed at Tribeca Film Festival, Rooftop Films, and the Hamptons International Film Festival.