Cyntoia Brown granted clemency by Tennessee governor

Cyntoia Brown granted clemency by Tennessee governor

Source:  PEOPLE

On Monday, Tennessee governor Bill Haslam granted an early release to Cyntoia Brown, who was a 16-year-old victim of sex trafficking in 2004 when she fatally shot Johnny Mitchell Allen, a 43-year-old real estate agent who solicited sex from her.

The order comes only a month after the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled Brown would have to remain behind bars for at least 51 years.

The decision from Gov. Bill Haslam comes after years of legal wrangling in the case, which gained notoriety in recent years thanks to celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Rihanna, who had called for the 30-year-old woman’s release.

Brown’s planned release date is Aug. 7, according to a statement from Haslam’s office.

An Independent Lens documentary, “Me Facing Life: Cyntoia’s Story,” that profiled her story originally aired on PBS in 2011.

Read the story at PEOPLE.

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“Hale County This Morning, This Evening” is a poetic portrait of life in a fabled corner of Alabama

“Hale County This Morning, This Evening” is a poetic portrait of life in a fabled corner of Alabama

Source:  Variety

The simplest way to describe “Hale County This Morning, This Evening” — and maybe the best way since it’s a film of elemental radiance — is to say that it’s a documentary put together like a series of photographs. In this case, the photographs are filmed images, so they in effect come to life.

Director RaMell Ross moved to Hale County, Alabama in 2009 to work as a basketball coach and photography teacher, and the film is his impressionistic portrait of the life he found there — a caught-on-the-fly tapestry of experience.

Photgrapher Walker Evans shot some of his most iconic Great Depression images in Hale County, and Ross’s film could be considered a raw ragged lyrical answer to the mythology that Evans created.

Filmed over several years, the film is a diary of a time, place, and culture – African-American life in what’s left of the rural South, much of it stranded on the edge of poverty.

You could call “Hale County This Morning, This Evening” a transcendental scrapbook because it wipes away the muck of subjectivity that guides most movies, and turns the audience into direct receptors of the experience.

Read the story at Variety.

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“A Killer on Floor 32” examines the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history

“A Killer on Floor 32” examines the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history

Source:  ABC News

Rosemarie Melanson remembers staring down at the chaos breaking out at the Route 91 Harvest Festival, seeing her limp body splayed on the ground, blood coming from a bullet wound to her chest.

She recalls floating in the sky away from frantic screams and the rain of gunfire that instantly obliterated what had been an awesome autumn night on the town with her two daughters.

“The next thing I know I was in heaven,” Melanson told ABC News’ Nightline. “And I saw my dad and my two brothers, and my uncle. And it was so beautiful. It was so beautiful you didn’t want to come back. They just told me, ‘It’s not your time, Rosemarie. You’ve got to go back.'”

Using never before seen footage and exclusive access to tell the story of that tragic night in Las Vegas, “A Killer on Floor 32” looks back at the Oct. 1, 2017 mass shooting that killed 58 people and left Melanson and more than 850 others wounded.

Read the story at ABC News.

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“Unknown Distance” examines veteran struggles with PTSD and life after war

“Unknown Distance” examines veteran struggles with PTSD and life after war

Source:  The Hollywood Reporter

Gordon Clark’s “Unknown Distance” adds to the growing canon of films dealing with the sad travails of veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The film revolves largely around one such figure, Sergeant Douglas Brown, who recounts his difficulties upon returning home in harrowing personal terms.

Clark follows Brown as he travels across the country over a period of eight months, talking to fellow veterans and their family members who share their experiences.

Brown, like so many of his fellow Marines, enlisted shortly after 9/11. He had a distinguished military career, serving five tours of duty over 10 years as a Marine sniper and earning a Purple Heart at 19. In the film, he talks frankly and eloquently about his suffering from PTSD, as do many of the other interview subjects.

Many of the veterans are seen speaking directly to the camera, delivering their accounts with barely suppressed emotional anguish. “Why are we still here?” asks one of the veterans, referring to the fact that many of his fellow soldiers lost their lives.

Veterans also talk about the lingering psychological effects of their wartime experiences and their reliance on medication that, while providing some relief, frequently also leave them confused and disoriented. That a good number of them were snipers only adds to their emotional distress.

Read the story at The Hollywood Reporter.

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In Silicon Valley, a hidden community thrives despite difficult circumstances

In Silicon Valley, a hidden community thrives despite difficult circumstances

Source:  The Guardian

In Silicon Valley, a hidden community thrives despite difficult circumstances.

“Crisanto Street” follows eight-year-old Geovany Cesario, who is moving from his mobile RV into low-income housing, and much of the film is documented by him.

Crisanto Avenue, which Geovany affectionately calls Crisanto Street in the film, is located in Mountain View, California, home to tech giants Google, Intuit, and Symantec.

“Crisanto Street” is a film by Paloma Martinez, an award-winning director interested in the intimate moments that humanize complex social and political structures.

Read the story at The Guardian.

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Meet the man who served the longest sentence of any innocent U.S. inmate

Meet the man who served the longest sentence of any innocent U.S. inmate

Source:  The Atlantic

In 1975, Rickey Jackson was 18 years old when he was sentenced to death for a murder he didn’t commit.

Before a witness recantation led to his immediate exoneration and release, Jackson spent 39 years in prison.

At the time of his release, Jackson was the longest-serving exoneree in U.S. history.

“I never broke the law in my life,” Jackson says in Cassandra Evanisko’s 360° short documentary, “Send Me Home. “But nobody cares or believes that you’re innocent in prison. You’re here. You’re 144061 and you’re a killer.”

To utlilize “Send Me Home’s” 360° functionality, watch it on YouTube. 

“Send Me Home” is part of The Atlantic Selects, an online showcase of short documentaries from independent creators, curated by The Atlantic.

Read the story at The Atlantic.

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