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Los Tigres del Norte at Folsom Prison

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
Los Tigres del Norte at Folsom Prison Movie Poster Image
Excellent docu featuring musicians performing for inmates.
  • NR
  • 2019
  • 64 minutes

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We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Some inmates are shown taking full responsibility for their actions while trying to make the best of their present and looking forward to the future. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Los Tigres del Norte show empathy and compassion while performing and meeting with the inmates of Folsom Prison. 

Violence

Inmate testimonials discuss the violent crimes that led to their imprisonment. 

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Reference to tequila in one of the songs. Inmates discuss their addictions to drugs and alcohol. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Los Tigres del Norte at Folsom Prison is a documentary of the popular "norteño" band's performance in Folsom Prison. Between the songs, the documentary presents interviews with some of the inmates; they discuss the violent crimes that led to their imprisonment, as well as their addictions to drugs and alcohol. Reference to tequila in one of the songs. Through the lyrics and the testimonies, the documentary also tells the stories of immigrants crossing the border into America in the hopes of finding a better life, and the struggles they face each day. The concert coincides with the fiftieth anniversary of the legendary Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison live album. 

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What's the story?

In 1968, Johnny Cash gave a memorable performance to the inmates at Folsom Prison that led to the release of one of the greatest live albums of all time. Now, 50 years later, "norteño" superstars Los Tigres del Norte follow in Cash's footsteps to perform for today's inmates at Folsom. As their songs tell the stories of immigrants crossing the border into the United States and their struggles and desires, the documentary includes interviews with inmates in both the male and female wings of Folsom. Before the concert Los Tigres del Norte meets with some of the inmates and listens to their stories. LOS TIGRES DEL NORTE AT FOLSOM PRISON is a documentary on both the concert and the stories of the inmates of Folsom. 

Is it any good?

While the performance would be enough for fans of their music, this documentary goes the extra mile by focusing on the Folsom Prison inmates. Los Tigres del Norte at Folsom Prison shows the popular "norteño" band following in Johnny Cash's footsteps and performing for inmates. It also shows members of the band meeting with some of the inmates and learning their stories, including interviews discussing the circumstances and life choices that led to their incarceration. The song lyrics, stories of the struggles of immigrating to the United States to find a better life while facing numerous challenges and obstacles, serve to amplify these stories, while also showing a direct lineage to the songs Johnny Cash had sung in Folsom 50 years prior. 

The documentary doesn't sugarcoat, romanticize, or gloss over the inmates' stories. Instead, it gives the inmates a voice to tell of their lives and backgrounds, and the circumstances that led to their imprisonment. The band shows a tremendous amount of empathy throughout the documentary, especially when meeting face-to-face with some of the inmates. Because of this, this documentary can be viewed and enjoyed by more than simply those who are fans of Los Tigres del Norte. Through the lyrics and the interviews, Los Tigres del Norte also addresses topics at the forefront of the national conversation, especially immigration. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about music documentaries. How is Los Tigres del Norte at Folsom Prison different from most music documentaries? 

  • How does the documentary present the stories of the inmates? What would be lost in the documentary if these stories weren't included?

  • How do the song lyrics address the stories and struggles of immigrants trying to find a better life in the United States?

Movie details

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