40 YEARS A PRISONER Documentary


USA Premiere

Following the film, Film critic Gil Robertson leads a conversation with filmmaker Tommy Oliver.

On August 8, 1978, after a 15-month standoff, the confrontation between the Black liberation group MOVE and the Philadelphia Police Department exploded in gunshots. Police officer James J. Ramp lay dead. Nine MOVE members, including the couple Michael Davis Africa and Debbie Sims Africa, were charged and convicted of third-degree murder of officer Ramp and sentenced to 30-100 years in prison. A month later, in prison, Debbie gave birth to son Michael Davis Africa, Jr., who was then taken away from her.

In this incredibly timely and urgent documentary, director Tommy Oliver revisits the volatile events of 1978. He also follows a determined, angry and extremely patient Michael Davis Africa, Jr. as he attempts to get his parents paroled and to unite the family — before it is too late. –Ken Jacobson

Tommy Oliver was born in Philadelphia and studied economics and digital media at Carnegie Mellon University. He directed the short films SECOND CHANCES (2009) and ADJOURNMENT (2011) and the feature 1982 (2013), which screened at the Toronto International Film Festival. 40 YEARS A PRISONER (2020) had its world premiere at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival.


Country: USA

Year: 2020

Director: Tommy Oliver

Screenwriter: Tommy Oliver

Producer: Tommy Oliver

Executive Producers: John Legend, Mike Jackson, Ty Stiklorius, Adam J. Platzner, Kelly Ryan

Director of Photography: Tommy Oliver

Editors: Joe Kehoe, Tommy Oliver

Music: John Jennings Boyd

Cast/Featuring: Mike Africa Jr.

Running Time (minutes): 109

Language: English