Coming to NYC’s Maysles Cinema (as part of a special Masterclass with director Steve James) this Thursday, August 4: AT THE DEATH HOUSE DOOR
Steve James partnered with his HOOP DREAMS cinematographer/producer, Peter Gilbert, to co-direct this portrait of prison chaplain Carroll Pickett. The film bowed at SXSW in 2008, picked up awards at fests including Full Frame, Atlanta, DOC NZ, and DocAviv, was shortlisted for the Oscars, and was broadcast by IFC.
The filmmakers use Pickett’s unusual career as the throughline for this poignant and careful meditation on the death penalty. As the death house chaplain for the Huntsville TX “Walls” prison unit, Pickett’s main responsibility for over a decade was to counsel inmates in the hours before they were executed by lethal injection. Unbeknownst to his family, he recorded his thoughts about each prisoner after each execution. These tapes, together with Pickett’s present-day interview, provide a deeply intimate perspective on dying, and on questions of punishment, guilt, and innocence. Threading in and out of Pickett’s recollections are the stories of specific prisoners who left a lasting impression – including Charles Brooks Jr, the first prisoner to be executed by lethal injection, and, most significantly, Carlos De Luna, the convict who Pickett became convinced was innocent, leading him later in life to become an anti-death penalty activist.
One response to “Special Screening: AT THE DEATH HOUSE DOOR”
Already have my ticket. Can’t wait to see it. James’ new film, “The Interrupters,” is the best film I have seen this year.