"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...
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Michael David Dunn
A documentary that examines the 1989 case of five black and Latino teenagers who were convicted of raping a white woman in Central Park. After having spent between 6 and 13 years each in prison, a serial rapist confessed to the crime.
"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
In 1984, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, young white newspaper editor Deborah Sykes is brutally raped and murdered. A man with a history of violence and crime, claiming to be somebody else, phones the police to report that he has seen a young woman killed. A name given during the phone call leads the police to question young black male Darryl Hunt and his friend, and later take them in for further questioning. With a media s**t-storm generated by the slaying of a white woman in a black neighbourhood in a Southern state, what transpired next was one of the most shockingly vindictive miscarriages of justice in recent American history.
Documentaries surrounding wrongful imprisonments and the many failings of the American judicial system are extremely common, but The Trial of Darryl Hunt is particularly infuriating due to the involvement of Hunt himself; a humble, intelligent man who maintains his innocence and dignity throughout his many trials without a hint of hatefulness towards his accusers. He spent 19 years in prison for his imagined crime, his release only being granted after the exhaustive efforts of his legal team and dedicated community following. Ten years into his term, DNA evidence is presented that clears Hunt, but the judge rules that this only proves he didn't do the deed, not that he wasn't present.
The film never tries to be anything other than informative, and directors Ricki Stern and Anne Sundberg detail every movement in the case rather than getting over-stuffed with style. It's often an incredibly frustrating watch, made slightly more bearable by the sight of Hunt,older and heavier, being granted his freedom in the opening moments. It shows us a city divided by skin colour, where tension is still high in a country that believes it has moved on from its dark history, and where a black man can be proved guilty by an all-white jury for a crime he didn't do, the only evidence being broken testimony from a known liar, an ex-convict and a man who looks like he's stepped out of the Jim Crow South.
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