Injustice, Resilience, and Love on the Big Screen

Expect injustice, resilience and love at this year’s Wrongful Convictions Film Festival, running at Griffith College throughout Saturday 27 June.

Hosted by the Irish Innocence Project, the nine-film schedule is split between dramatised true stories and documentaries.

The common theme? The trials and heart-breaking triumphs of those who have seen years behind bars for crimes they didn’t commit, and those who dedicate their lives to seeing them freed.

If you’ve got questions for directors, actors or exonerees, three of the showings will be followed by Q&As.

Journalist Barry Cummins will be on hand to answer questions after a screening of Prime Time’s The Hanged Man, the story of recently exonerated Harry Gleeson who was a patsy for a murder in Tipperary in the 1940s.

Or check out Conviction about Betty Ann Walters, who began an 18-year quest, putting herself through college and law school, to exonerate her brother after he was wrongly convicted of murder. Both director Tony Goldwyn and Walters will be there to answer questions after the film.

Similarly, a Q&A session will follow the screening of The Exonerated with director Bob Balaban, actor Aidan Quinn and exoneree Sunny Jacobs. Sunny Jacobs was 28 when she was sentence to death for the murder of two Florida police officers; her two young children were put into foster care. She spent 17 years in prison before her conviction was overturned on appeal. Her story as well as those of five other wrongly convicted death row inmates are told in the film.

The Irish Innocence Project has paired the film festival with an international conference set for the Friday before, which will open with a key-note speech by Gareth Peirce, a human rights activist and lawyer who successfully worked to overturn the convictions of the Guilford Four and the Birmingham Six.

“This will be a spectacular lineup of conference speakers, films, Q&As with actors and directors and first-ever awards that shouldn’t be missed,” said David Langwallner, Dean of Law at Griffith College and founding director of the Irish Innocence Project.

It’s taken the guts of a year to plan, he said. “It’s taken a long time to get this galaxy of lefty superstars together,” Langwallner said. “Somebody called it the ‘Pinko Lawyers Convention.’”

Call it what you like; it promises to be an eye-opening two days.

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Damien Murphy: Damien Murphy is Dublin Inquirer's Northside city reporter.

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