IMDb > Brother's Keeper (1992)
Brother's Keeper
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Brother's Keeper (1992) More at IMDbPro »

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Brother's Keeper -- This compelling documentary details the strange-but-true murder trial of Delbert Ward, accused of the mercy killing of his brother in rural upstate NY. This real-life murder mystery won the Audience Award at Sundance.


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Release Date:
9 September 1992 (USA) See more »
This documentary by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky details the murder trial of Delbert Ward. Delbert... See more » | Add synopsis »
11 wins & 2 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
Fascinating documentary See more (24 total) »


  (in credits order)
Delbert Ward ... Himself
Roscoe Ward ... Himself
Lyman Ward ... Himself
Walt Geisler ... Himself - Ward Supporter
Ken Elmer ... Himself - Neighbor
John Teeple ... Himself - Neighbor
Dave Goff ... Himself - Cousin
Joseph F. Loszynski ... Himself - Bureau of Criminal Investigation, New York State Police (as Captain Joseph F. Loszynski)
Harry Thurston ... Himself - Friend
Ralph A. Cognetti ... Himself - Defense Attorney
Maynard A. Cosnett ... Himself - Bureau of Criminal Investigation, New York State Police (as Investigator Maynard A. Cosnett)
John W. Graham ... Himself - Bureau of Criminal Investigation, New York State Police (as Investigator John W. Graham)
Robert J. Killough ... Himself - Bureau of Criminal Investigation, New York State Police (as Investigator Robert J. Killough)
Donald F. Cerio ... Himself - Madison County District Attorney
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Connie Chung ... Herself (archive footage) (uncredited)

Directed by
Joe Berlinger 
Bruce Sinofsky 
Produced by
Joe Berlinger .... executive producer
Joe Berlinger .... producer
Nicholas Gottlieb .... associate producer
Bruce Sinofsky .... producer
Original Music by
Molly Mason 
Jay Ungar 
Cinematography by
James D. Cooper  (as Douglas Cooper)
Richard Hissong 
Film Editing by
Joe Berlinger 
Bruce Sinofsky 
Sound Department
Brian Langman .... sound editor
Jacob Ribicoff .... foley supervisor
Camera and Electrical Department
Bob Boccaccio .... EPK camera
Other crew
Susan Jacobs .... publicist
Susan Kouguell .... script consultant
David Maysles .... dedicatee (as David C. Maysles)
William J. Ward .... dedicatee

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
104 min
Sound Mix:
Filming Locations:

Did You Know?

Picked by Entertainment Weekly magazine as one of the "50 Greatest Independent Films" in a special supplement devoted to independent films that was only distributed to subscribers in October 1997.See more »


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Fascinating documentary, 19 May 2014
Author: tomgillespie2002 from United Kingdom

When God asks Cain where his brother is, Cain replies, "I know not, am I my brother's keeper?". Documentary film-makers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky shed the light of their focus not as much on the brother's guilt over the accusation of killing his brother, as on the massive social divide caused by this incident in a small rural village in New York. Living almost in solitude on the farm owned by their family for generations, the three remaining brothers Ward - Delmar, Lyman and Roscoe - were largely ignored by the townsfolk and dismissed as harmless simpletons until the media circus that engulfed their surrounding following the death of eldest brother William descended.

Shot in cinema verite style (Berlinger and Sinofsky worked under the Maysles brothers for a time), the three Ward brothers prove to be strange yet oddly sweet characters. They clearly haven't bathed for weeks, possibly months, their farm is half crumbled, and their living room is cramped and dank. When approached about the topic of women, it becomes clear that they probably haven't ever been with one, therefore inevitably condemning their family line. The main reason the townsfolk quickly gather their support for Delmar after he is accused of murder is because of their simple innocence, and because they have simply never caused any bother. On the opposite side of the spectrum, things are different, with hick stereotypes and cries on incest being broadcast of national TV.

Like Berlinger and Sinosky's Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hoods Hills (1996), the court room scenes are tense and overwhelmingly unfair. One of the most powerful scenes has one of the brother's, a man clearly of social ineptitude, lose his breath on the stand, requiring serious medical attention. This is a world almost alien to them, and they suffer in it due to illiteracy and possible retardation. But it's more than a simple court-room documentary, this is about how society fears and judges people and cultures they simply don't understand. The 'simple' folk seem to easily distinguish right from wrong, yet the fat suits sat behind their big desks play God against people not educated enough to properly fight back.

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Discuss this movie with other users on IMDb message board for Brother's Keeper (1992)
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Jay Ungar/Molly Madison Soundtrack krw777
I couldn't help but think... nuhc
Are they suggesting... Emerald_Empress3
Prosecutor owned Delbert.... cpitt398
are the other 2 brothers still alive joeflush
personalities and a docu recommendation stripedpoloshirt
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