A visual call to justice on a lamp post in West Philadelphia??
Steve James presents the story of the Sungs and their struggle to save their family-run Chinatown bank from a misguided prosecution based on cultural incompetence.
“The Return” reveals why a lawyer, deeply involved in the resentencing of Three Strikers as a way of reducing mass incarceration, placed reentry services near the top of his concerns.
The story of a serial killer who took advantage of crack culture to prey on black women can tell us much about what is wrong with the notion of “the good victim.”
How does a brother cope with the shame, guilt, regret, and anger of being the relative of a mentally-ill ex-Marine who committed a murder, but should not have been executed for it?
As the Docs Program undertakes visual work on behalf of lifers incarcerated for decades because they are ineligible for parole, we confront a ban on photographing and filming in prisons. Prison Portraits may be useful in providing not only a way to deal with the ban, but also an argument why it is wrong.
The law uses the term “gang” too loosely. “Out in the Night” explores what happened when the term was applied to four young-adult black working-class lesbians from Newark.
As “Let the Fire Burn” (2013) and “The Bombing of Osage Avenue” (1987) show in very different ways, May 13, 1985 was a traumatic day in the history of police/citizen relations in Philadelphia. Its legacy is reflected in contemporary controversies over race relations in America.
A sentencing video should be more than a flattering portrait of a defendant; it should tell the story of what the defendant has done to deserve a lighter sentence and why he or she is unlikely to reoffend.
Documentary television footage contradicts a police officer’s testimony about a stop-and-frisk, and leads a federal district court to find that the officer violated the defendant’s constitutional rights.
Weighing the pros and cons of filmmakers asking federal agencies for records about themselves, under the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act.
After federal judge Mark Wolf moderated a panel discussion about The Life and Mind of Mark DeFriest, he was investigated by the FBI, the IRS, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Massachusetts State Police to determine if he had compromised his ability to preside over a death penalty case.
After analyzing numerous documentaries about sex trafficking, Law Professor Emerita Kate Nace Day decided to make one that focuses on a vision of civil justice for survivors.
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press is launching a new campaign to reach out to documentary filmmakers.
Like “The Act of Killing,” Joshua Oppenheimer’s “The Look of Silence” examines the 1965 Indonesian genocide; this time the focus is Adi Rukun, the brother of a victim, who pursues his own mission of truth and reconciliation.
“Justice for Her” is a compelling, insightful documentary directed and produced by a black mother about her struggle to secure the acquittal of her daughter who was charged with capital murder during the “War on Drugs.”
“Evolution of a Criminal,” with its complex portrait of the filmmaker, offers an good starting point for an audience with lived experience to consider how the media should portray young black men with criminal records.
What can be done to increase college-level teachers’ and researchers’ access to documentaries in the non-theatrical, non-home video academic market while still supporting independent film production?
Chico Colvard–documentary filmmaker, film series curator, and lapsed lawyer–explains how he puts skills acquired during his legal training to work in the documentary world.
Visual legal advocacy and scholarship (PVAS) are being taught and produced in law schools around the country today and the PVAS Working Group intends to support their expansion.
The late Harry Reicher, Adjunct Professor at Penn Law, made extensive use of visual material in teaching Holocaust Studies in the Law. His talk at the Shoah Foundation explains how and why.
The PA Department of Corrections’ nearly complete ban on recording in its facilities by lawyers and the media needs to be reexamined in light of advances in the use of digital audiovisual technology and visual legal advocacy.
Supreme Court precedent required that a juvenile offender serving four consecutive terms of LWOP be resentenced. Learn about the role his defense lawyers played in representing him as the subject of the observational documentary “15 to Life.”
What guidance should law students be given about capturing candid images of the public, in public and without the subjects’ consent, for a “DIY Stock” gallery?
When social justice collaborations and storytellers are in short supply, visual legal advocates should pursue the promise of i-Docs (Interactive Documentaries) to encourage participation and activism for change.
Having a DIY gallery of stock images of your own making is a sine qua non to teaching and practicing visual legal advocacy. Capturing stills and video footage with the characteristics of street photography in mind will really enrich the collection.
This is the first in a series of “how-to” posts on structuring a course that involves law students, supported by a host of collaborators, in producing and directing short social justice advocacy documentaries.
“The Memphis 13” is not only a powerful and thought-provoking short documentary; it also illustrates the potential contributions of visual legal scholarship.
In making the case for resources and training in visual legal advocacy, a public defender describes how a video she shot in a client’s home with his mother was effective in reducing his sentence.
Sometimes legal research generates a good topic for a student-made visual legal advocacy video. It did in the case of “Nowhere to Run: Giving Philly’s Urban Youth a Place to Play.”
Conducting interviews for social justice documentaries gives students the opportunity to understand the importance of affirming human connections as they learn how to use cameras, lights, and mikes,
Lawyers play a supporting role in protecting and assisting protesters who interact with digital visual technology. The lawyers may be practicing criminal law, civil liberties, or international human rights.
Not only should visual artist activists produce work that is authentic and creative, they should also pay due regard to the importance of social connections to movements for social change.
The Chinese audience for Internet video programming is much like that for television documentaries. Few dreamers here.
Renowned documentary duo, Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker, discuss the challenges of and hopes for their latest documentary project, which follows a lawyer fighting for “personhood” rights for chimpanzees.
Video of the 2014 VLA Roundtable “Preparing to Protest” shows how “creative cultural resistance” can increase the visual impact of direct action social justice protests.
Sentencing videos are short nonfiction advocacy pieces that can help criminal defendants obtain better sentences by illustrating with images, sound, and text their capacity as a human beings to suffer, err, grow and change.
How does a documentary filmmaker whose focus is the history of black people’s struggle for equality satisfy the conflicting demands of an audience that lived the history and an audience that needs to learn it?
Two new Hollywood films have the same titles as recent documentary films. How is that legal?
The latest opinion from the Southern District of New York betrays misapprehensions about documentary filmmaking, and, in the process, renders documentary outtakes more vulnerable to subpoena than they should be.
American Promise documents the education of two middle-class African-American boys in New York City from kindergarten through high school. With the documentary as a springboard, the filmmakers are spearheading a larger social justice campaign to support better educational opportunities for African-American males.
Documentary guru Thom Powers thinks that organizations that support doc filmmakers need to create a legal defense fund to help filmmakers pay legal bills.
The documentary “Kids for Cash” is as much about the limits of zero tolerance policies and the harms of the school-to-prison pipeline as it is about judicial greed and corruption. Who knew?
A lawsuit reveals details about documentarian Errol Morris’s struggle to get consent forms signed by Joyce McKinney, the subject of the film Tabloid.
The PUMA Impact Awards have created an archive of case studies detailing how filmmakers and advocates use film and video to make a difference in the world.
Call Me Kuchu co-director Malika Zouhali-Worrall talks about gaining trust of documentary film subjects.
A closer look reveals that there is more to “The Loving Story” than meets the eye.
This 8-episode series looks at economic inequality in Philadelphia and the political activism of engaged Philadelphians who are targeting the social and material disparities burdening the City’s poor and working people.