The Stanford Prison Experiment

The Stanford Prison Experiment

Sloan Foundation Film

Release Date



  • Kyle Patrick Alvarez


  • Ezra Miller
  • Tye Sheridan
  • Billy Crudup


  • Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize, 2015

In 1971, Stanford Professor Philip Zimbardo conducts a controversial psychology experiment in which college students pretend to be either prisoners or guards, but the proceedings soon get out of hand.

In this tense, psychological thriller based on the notorious true story, Billy Crudup stars as Stanford University professor Dr. Philip Zimbardo, who, in 1971, cast 24 student volunteers as prisoners and guards in a simulated jail to examine the source of abusive behavior in the prison system. The results astonished the world, as participants went from middle-class undergrads to drunk-with-power sadists and submissive victims in just a few days.

Possible Topics

  • What is the human capacity for evil?
  • What happens when scientific studies go wrong?

Past Programs


The Psychology of Power and Imprisonment

The Nickelodeon, Columbia, SC


Powerless: When Psychology Goes Wrong

Moxie Cinema, Springfield, MO

The Psychology of Heroism vs. Villainy

Enzian Theater, Maitland, FL


Cause and effect in mass incarceration

Colonial Theatre, Phoenixville, PA


The susceptibility of the human mind

The Frida Cinema, Santa Ana, CA


Ethics of human research

The Nightlight, Akron, OH