As a local promotion for the TV debut of the MOVE documentary 40 Years a Prisoner, HBO is setting up what it calls an immersive drive-through experience that will be open noon to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Logan Square Parking garage, 1815 Cherry St.
Visitors to the free drive-through will be guided in their vehicles through four exhibits, on four separate floors, that depict moments and ideas from Philly-raised director Tommy Oliver’s film, which will have its TV premiere Tuesday at 9 p.m. on HBO and be available on demand on HBO Max starting Wednesday.
At each of the four stops, a 2- to 3-minute audio track narrated by Mike Africa Jr. will give context to what’s on display. An HBO spokesperson said the exhibit will include a mix of items from the film’s set, vintage projectors showing videos of what Philadelphia looked like in the 1970s, and photography of archival newspaper clippings.
40 Years a Prisoner chronicles the massive 1978 police raid on the radical back-to-nature group MOVE’s Powelton Village headquarters and its aftermath, including the decades-long effort by Africa, who was born in prison, to free his parents.
His mother, Debbie Sims Africa, was pregnant in 1978 when she and his father, Michael Davis Africa Sr., were among the MOVE members arrested and charged in the death of Police Officer James J. Ramp during the standoff in Powelton Village, seven years prior to the city’s deadly 1985 bombing of the MOVE house on Osage Avenue.
Nine members of MOVE were convicted of third-degree murder, conspiracy, and attempted murder of seven firefighters and police, and received 30- to 100-year prison sentences following the 1978 confrontation. MOVE members have argued that Ramp was accidentally killed by another officer.
Debbie Sims Africa and Michael Sims Africa Sr. were released on parole, several months apart, in 2018 after not seeing each other for nearly 40 years.
In the free drive-through exhibit, organized in partnership with Black Lives Matter Philly and the Black Philly Radical Collective, each of the garage levels will represent one of those decades. Fog will simulate tear gas on the second level, and hand-painted sheets with social justice messages will be shown on the third.
The accompanying audio track can be accessed by scanning a QR code with a smartphone, which will link visitors to a URL that will play the audio. The recording can also be heard on HBO.com.
The installation should take about 15 to 25 minutes to complete, the spokesperson said. All visitors are required to be in cars; no walk-throughs will be allowed.
40 Years a Prisoner film premiered in September at the Toronto International Film Festival and screened at the Philadelphia Film Festival in October.