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"The Trials of Darryl Hunt" is a feature documentary about a brutal rape/murder case and a wrongly convicted man, Darryl Hunt, who spent nearly twenty years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Both a social justice story and a personally driven narrative, the film chronicles this capital case from 1984 through 2004. With exclusive footage from two decades, the film frames the judicial and emotional response to a chilling crime - and the implications that reverberate from Hunt's conviction - against a backdrop of class and racial bias in the South and in the American criminal justice system. This documentary is the culmination of ten years of research and filming. In 1993, inspired by claims of injustice and police conspiracy, the filmmakers began to shoot in North Carolina. Working from a mix of formats (16mm and 24P video) the film melds the visceral reality of a murder case with first person accounts and cinematic imagery, illuminating perceptions and memories of events as they... Written by
heartfelt and comprehensive picture of one man's legal struggles
At the North Carolina Public Defender's conference, I had the pleasure of watching this film and meeting Mr. Hunt and his attorneys in person. The film is a well articulated synopsis of the various legal and personal challenges faced by Mr. Hunt during his 19 and a half years in a North Carolina prison for a rape and murder which he never committed.
As a film watcher, I really enjoyed the linearity and breadth of the narrative as well as the compelling players involved. The movie is able to explore all of the complexities of the legal procedures without getting bogged down or tedious. The filmmakers followed the case for well over a decade, and at many times in the movie the audience sees events as they unfold in real time. Every lost appeal, every new piece of evidence, and key hearings are well documented and the immediacy of the emotions involved really hits home. Mr. Hunt's case attracted dedicated attorneys and colorful and interesting supporters like Larry Little, who invested their heart and soul into his struggles. The movie refuses to over-sentimentalize Mr. Hunt, instead focusing more upon the systematic forces at work in his case. In fact, no over-sentimentalizing has to be done in this movie. Very few people would have accepted their situation with as much grace or courage as Mr. Hunt did and it shows from the few parts of contemporaneous and recorded dialogue we hear from him.
As a lawyer, it's a case like this that makes me realize why I sit at the defendant's table. It's idealistic to think that everybody has rights, that at any time a vindictive prosecutor backed by unsympathetic individuals can rob someone of their freedom even in the United States. But it's those very ideals, that conception of rights, that makes criminal defendants worthy of our care and protection.
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