One of the biggest hot-button issues dividing the United States has long been capital punishment, so when Illinois Governor George Ryan, a conservative Republican, commuted the sentences of 167 death row inmates the day before his term ended, it shocked the nation and outraged many in his own party. This documentary from the filmmaking duo of Katy Chevigny and Kirsten Johnson explores not only the investigative work done by a group of Northwestern University journalism students that led to Ryan's staunch opposition to the death penalty, but also the impact the capital punishment debate has on the nation as a whole. Deadline premiered at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival. … More
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Critic Reviews for Deadline
Impressively take[s] on a hugely important and perennially contentious issue.
Filmmakers Kate Chevigny and Kirsten Johnson spend much of their film on those hearings, and it's riveting stuff, artfully photographed.
The age-old emotion and complexity that surround capital punishment are ably captured, unfancied-up, by Chevigny and Johnson..
Not as dynamic as it should be, given the punch of the story it tells, but it makes its points.
The reasoning on both sides of the debate is by now all too familiar, but rarely has the argument against the death penalty been made so articulately, or so poignantly.
So potent, it could change the mind of even the most staunch defender of capital punishment.
Deadline delivers a routine but effective case against capital punishment.
The film's indisputable overall message is chilling no matter what side of the debate you're on: Some innocent men almost died for crimes for which they were wrongly convicted, so maybe some other innocent men actually did die.
It gives you a chance to ruminate on some crucial questions of human error, justice and life-and-death.
Potent docu by Katy Chevigny and Kirsten Johnson makes a strong case against capital punishment by pointing up the fallibility of the justice system, while offering an inspiring portrait of one politico who actually seems guided foremost by conscience.
An example of social activism at its best; it's not only enlightening, but it's an engrossing story.
The death penalty has become such a divisive issue that it's easy to forget that people such as Ryan are open to rethinking their positions.
Audience Reviews for Deadline
[font=Century Gothic]Two recent documentaries about current affairs for your perusal:[/font]
[font=Century Gothic][color=darkslategray]"Deadline" is a powerful, provocative documentary about the clemency hearings held by outgoing Republican Governor George Ryan of Illinois in 2002 to explore the death sentences of all 167 death row prisoners after some death row prisoners were found to be exonerated of the charges against them. The documentary explores the history of the death penalty (where one interviewee claims it was used to lynch blacks in the South) to the 1972 Supreme Court decision Furman v. Georgia that temporarily suspended the death penalty(and there are interviews with former prisoners who are alive because of that very decision) to when it was applied again with the execution of Gary Gilmore a few years later. What the film states is that in a perfect world, the death penalty would be used to execute the worst of the worst(for example, John Wayne Gacy) but this is a world with inadequate defenses and coerced confessions.(In a perfect world, I would still be against the death penalty.) If somebody were to be executed, then there is no room for error. This excellent documentary keeps everything on a human level, by interviewing various people who are involved in the criminal justice system, along with several past and current death row inmates. That way, the viewer gets to see what is at stake here.[/color][/font]
[font=Century Gothic][color=darkslategray][color=dimgray]"Lost Boys of Sudan" is about a group of young men who grew up in Sudan, forced to flee because of civil war to neighboring Kenya to live in a refugee camp. They are eventually allowed to emigrate to the United States. The documentary focuses on two of the men - Peter and Santino. At first they both live in Houston but eventually Peter moves to Kansas where he attends high school and better socializes than Santino. It's interesting seeing the men acclimate to living in the United States but there is nothing here that we have not seen before, especially in the superior documentary, "Balseros."[/color] [/color][/font]
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