In American courtrooms, lawyers are increasingly creating short documentaries to influence the sentencing of their convicted clients

In American courtrooms, lawyers are increasingly creating short documentaries to influence the sentencing of their convicted clients

Source:  The Atlantic

Narrative is one of mankind’s sharpest tools. Doug Passon, a defense attorney-turned-filmmaker, knows this better than most.

In the courtroom, he harnesses the power of storytelling to create sentencing mitigation videos. They are emotionally rousing documentaries designed to appeal to a judge’s sense of empathy and humanize Passon’s clients.

These biographical short films have one express purpose: to motivate the judge to deliver a reduced prison sentence.

Lance Oppenheim’s short documentary, “No Jail Time: The Movie,” profiles Passon and his controversial practice in all its variegated shades of gray. In the process, the film offers a meta-analysis of objectivity in the realm of narrative nonfiction.

“Passon treats sentencing videos in an artful manner nearly indistinguishable from narrative-driven, fictional films,” Oppenheim recently told The Atlantic.

According to Oppenheim, defense attorneys and sentencing video makers are increasingly drawing inspiration from true-crime entertainment, such as “The Jinx” and “The Thin Blue Line,” to bend the rules of reality in the courtroom with visual storytelling.

Read the story at The Atlantic.

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Netflix announces “Making a Murderer” season 2 premiere date

Netflix announces “Making a Murderer” season 2 premiere date

Source:  Adweek

Almost three years after “Making a Murderer” became one of Netflix’s most celebrated documentary series, the streaming service is preparing to release a follow-up season.

Netflix announced yesterday that part 2 of “Making a Murderer,” a 10-episode season, will begin streaming on Oct. 19.

Season 2 will follow Steven Avery and his co-defendant and nephew Brendan Dassey through their post-conviction processes.

Avery is serving a life sentence for the 2005 murder of Teresa Halbach, which occurred two years after he was released from prison, where he had served 18 years for a crime he didn’t commit.

Filmmakers Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos return for the second season, which follows Avery’s post-conviction lawyer Kathleen Zellner, who works to try and prove that Avery was wrongly convicted and win his freedom.

Meanwhile, Dassey’s post-conviction lawyers, Laura Nirider and Steven Drizin of Northwestern University’s Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth, fight in federal court to prove their client’s confession was involuntary.

Read the story at Adweek.

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Netflix acquires “The Legend of Cocaine Island”

Netflix acquires “The Legend of Cocaine Island”

Source:  Variety

Netflix has acquired the worldwide rights to director Theo Love’s documentary feature, “The Legend of Cocaine Island.”

The film, previously titled “White Tide: The Legend of Culebra,” earned high praise after it premiered at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival.

In “The Legend of Cocaine Island,” a small-business owner and family man comes across the legend of a buried stash of cocaine worth $2 million hidden in the Caribbean.

Having been wiped out during the Great Recession, he hatches a plan to retrieve the buried loot, using the talents of a band of colorful misfits. But without prior drug-running experience, trouble (and laughter) ensues.

Read the story at Variety. 

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Everything you need to know about Netflix’s new true crime series “I Am a Killer”

Everything you need to know about Netflix’s new true crime series “I Am a Killer”

Source:  Decider

If you love or are weirdly fascinated by graphic documentaries about murder, then Netflix has you covered.

But the streaming service’s latest true crime installment isn’t about wrongly accused convicts, like “Making a Murderer” and “The Confession Tapes,” or “innocent” parties who may be actually be guilty, like “The Staircase.” It’s about convicted murderers who committed the crimes they’re accused of, and they’re ready to talk.

Appropriately titled “I Am a Killer,” the British docuseries is a collaboration between Netflix, A+E Networks U.K., and Sky Vision Productions. Composed of 10 hour-long episodes, each installment will focus on a different prisoner who has been convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death.

This isn’t the first time Netflix has added murderous confessions to its library. The streaming service currently has the streaming rights to the docuseries “Inside the Mind of a Serial Killer,” and one of its most critically acclaimed new shows of last year, David Fincher’s “Mindhunter,” focused exclusively on re-enacting confessions and interviews from actual serial killers.

Morbid documentaries are a winning combination for Netflix, and this latest one promises to be as especially creepy.

“I Am a Killer” premieres August 3 on Netflix.

Read the story at Decider. 

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“Making a Murderer’s” Brendan Dassey loses bid to take his case to U.S. Supreme Court

“Making a Murderer’s” Brendan Dassey loses bid to take his case to U.S. Supreme Court

Source:  Variety

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to take up the case of Brendan Dassey who was featured in the hit Netflix documentary series, “Making a Murderer.”

Dassey is serving a life sentence after being convicted along with his uncle, Steven Avery, in separate jury trials for the 2005 rape and murder of photographer Teresa Halbach in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin.

The nation’s highest court gave no reason for the denial. Dassey’s attorneys claim that his confession to the police was coerced.

The denial means that the Supreme Court will not review the decision on Dassey’s case made by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in December. That court voted 4-3 that Dassey’s confession was voluntary.

Read the story at Variety.

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Attention “Serial” fans: Adnan Syed will be the subject of an HBO documentary series.  Will pick up where the podcast left off.

Attention “Serial” fans: Adnan Syed will be the subject of an HBO documentary series. Will pick up where the podcast left off.

We’re getting more “Serial”—well, sort of. Adnan Syed, the podcast’s subject currently serving a life sentence for the 1999 murder of his 18-year-old ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, will be the focus of an all-new, four-hour documentary series from Sky and HBO.

The upcoming docuseries, “The Case Against Adnan Syed,” will be directed by Oscar-nominated documentarian Amy Berg, who has reportedly been working on it since 2015—right after the first season of “Serial” wrapped its run.

According to the show’s synopsis, Berg’s doc “will offer a cinematic look at the life and 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee and conviction of Adnan Syed, from the genesis of their high school relationship to the original police investigation and trial.”

But the show won’t just be a visual rehash of Sarah Koenig’s 2014 podcast. It will also pick up where “Serial” left off, giving us a look at the last few years Syed has spent fighting for—and eventually being granted—a new trial.

Plus, the show is promising “new discoveries” and “groundbreaking revelations that challenge the state’s case,” whatever those might be.

Read the story at VICE.

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