New to DVD this week: DREAM/KILLER
Andrew Jenks’ exploration of a strange case of wrongful conviction made its bow at Tribeca last year. Screenings followed at Montclair, Sidewalk, Kansas, Hot Springs Doc, Heartland, Hamptons, and CPH:DOX, among other events.
In 2003, two years after the body of a newspaper editor was found in a parking lot, a young man named Charles Erickson stepped forward claiming responsibility for the murder. Offering a full confession, he was convicted, and implicated an accomplice, his childhood friend Ryan Ferguson. What makes this unusual is that Erickson couldn’t remember committing the crime, claiming a blackout from drugs, and instead credited a dream for jostling his memory. Despite an absence of any physical evidence, and Ferguson’s vehement denial of any connection to the murder, he too was convicted. With his son facing forty years in prison for a crime he swore he did not commit, Ferguson’s father, Bill, began his own investigation, and, as recounted in Jenks’ engaging film, uncovers a shocking series of breaches by the prosecution that provide his son with a fighting chance to win his freedom. At its best when it keeps focused on Bill and defense attorney Kathleen Zellner’s efforts, rather than on odd semi-animated interstitials offering Ryan’s reflections on his prison experience, the film offers a damning critique of a justice system more concerned with getting and maintaining convictions than on seeing crimes actually solved.