The Trials of Darryl Hunt (2007)
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No Top Critics Tomatometer score yet...
In 1984, Deborah Sykes, a copy editor at a newspaper in Winston-Salem, NC, was on her way to work when she was attacked by a man who raped and killed her. Three men were identified by the police as likely suspects -- Sammy Mitchell, Johnny Gray, and Darryl Hunt -- but it didn't take long for investigators to single out Hunt as the man who committed the brutal crime. Coverage of the case in the Winston-Salem Sentinel, the paper Sykes worked for, fueled public outrage and many called for swift justice against Hunt. However, Hunt stubbornly declared his innocence, and even declined an opportunity for a plea bargain agreement because he was determined to prove he did not commit the crime. Hunt was found guilty and given a life sentence, but civil rights advocates believed he had been railroaded, especially given the racial tension the trial generated in this Southern community -- Sykes was white and Hunt was black, while the jury that delivered the verdict was nearly all white and some of the most damning testimony, later to be found to be inaccurate, was given by a man with ties to the Ku Klux Klan. A second trial in 1989 also resulted in a guilty verdict, but in 1994 DNA testing proved that Hunt was not the man who committed the crime. However, no North Carolina court was willing to accept this new evidence, and it wasn't until 2004 that Hunt was finally exonerated and released. Filmmakers Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg began following the Darryl Hunt case in 1994, and ten years of research and interviews went into the making of The Trials of Darryl Hunt, a documentary following his long and painful road to eventual justice. Produced for the premium cable network HBO, The Trials of Darryl Hunt was screened to enthusiastic reviews at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival. … More
- PG-13 (for thematic material including violent images and descriptions, and brief strong language)
- Documentary , Special Interest
- Directed By:
- Ricki Stern & Annie Sundberg , Ricki Stern
- Written By:
- Ricki Stern , Annie Sundberg
- In Theaters:
- Jun 15, 2007 Wide
- On DVD:
- Oct 16, 2007
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Critic Reviews for The Trials of Darryl Hunt
Throughout the film, Hunt emerges as a likable man with a deep religious faith and an astonishing ability to reject anger and bitterness.
... a complicated tale that exposes how a credible case can be built upon perjuries and fabrications.
A scathing indictment of a system in disarray and provides a heartfelt portrait of the resilience of the human spirit, struggling in the face of injustice and genuinely overwhelming odds.
The uplift here is honestly earned, because it is so beautifully contrasted with harrowing venality and willful ignorance.
As the film shows in harrowing detail, the first trial featured an incredible array of errors (intentional or not) by the investigation and prosecution teams.
A disturbing bio-pic chronicling a mammoth miscarriage of justice which can only be explained as resulting from deep-seated racism. Despite its feelgood resolution, the film offers little in the way of reassurances that this will never happen again.
[A] rarity in these sorry days of the dying art of genuine journalism: a sensational story told without sensationalism...
I don't want to give to much away in terms of this film because it really is fascinating, but I will say that the film helps crystalize major flaws in our legal system.
Audience Reviews for The Trials of Darryl Hunt
As the title quite clearly specifies, the movie is about the trials of Darryl Hunt. The movie focuses on the proceedings of the case since Darryl's arrest till his exoneration. What I found favorable was:
- It was not all things Darryl Hunt, just telling his life story unnecessarily dragging it to his childhood memories.
- That it didn't pan the police & legal system heavily (regardless of it being due at times).
- That it put the story of around 20 years in a nutshell effectively enough.
The unfavorable elements may be:
- At times, though not often, it tends to get repetitive.
- While it sums up the case in around 2 hours appropriately, it doesn't give a wholesome picture of the case. It rushes on with the real culprit's part. As if it were going to turn the movie about him than Darryl Hunt. It's given incredibly less footage.
The film fares well enough to depict majority of the case. It works in bits & parts more than less, but isn't equally effective on the whole.
As for Darryl Hunt himself, it's probably yet another case of miscarriage of justice. But I couldn't help wondering if he'd have been serving time for some other crime had he not been in prison for Sykes' murder. Of course, it's not fair to judge one on the basis of their colleagues/group. One can't help much when instincts come up with some hypothetical scenario, though. Having said what I needed to, I finally realize that this is not an appropriate place for such discussions, and that I should better limit my comments related to the movie in question.
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