Once known as Houdini for his multiple and improbable jailbreaks, Mark DeFriest was condemned to Florida’s worst prison after a lone psychiatrist reversed four court appointed psychiatrists and declared Mark was faking mental illness. Over 30 years later, Mark is still struggling to understand how to survive a rigid and unforgiving system, while his remaining supporters forge an unlikely alliance to argue for his freedom in front of the Florida Parole Commission. Along the way, they uncover lingering questions about whether Mark should have even been sent to prison, yet face the daunting task of explaining why a notorious troublemaker deserves to go free. Gabriel joins us for a conversation on this unbelievable story of man juvenile, suffering from the death of his beloved father is thrust into a nightmare that has continued for over 34 years, 20 years of which were spent in solitary confinement, for taking a set of tools bequeath to him.
“The indomitable personality and talents of the serial prison escapee Mark DeFriest outshine the weaknesses of this documentary that bears his name.” – Nicolas Rapold, New York Times
“Producer-director Gabriel London’s fascinating film tracks the astounding journey of “one of the country’s most notorious prisoners,” Mark DeFriest.” – Gary Goldstein, LA Times
“…a curious, infuriating, and haunting tale, and an accomplishment of documentary filmmaking.” Katie Walsh, Playlist
“A chilling, timely, often darkly and unexpectedly humorous look at one man’s brutal experiences in the American prison system, the documentary The Mind of Mark DeFriest is the adage “truth is stranger than fiction” writ large.” – Ernest Hardy, Village Voice