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The Filmmaker Fund

True Conviction

Christopher Scott was released from prison after serving 13 years of a life sentence for a murder he didn’t commit. This sounds like a nightmare, but it’s more common than you think. 32 people like Chris have been exonerated in Dallas County. Most of them are black men locked up in their youth who emerged in middle age looking for a way to make sense of what happened. One day at an exoneree support group meeting, an idea came to Chris: exonerees could become detectives, find other wrongfully convicted people sitting in prison, investigate their cases and prove their innocence. True Conviction follows Chris and his team as they work to realize this dream of becoming detectives, while also trying to understand their own tangled and unjust experiences. On its face, this is a simple, hopeful story about a group of exonerees seeking redemption, attempting to right the wrongs they experienced. However, underneath the narrative surface is another even more compelling set of issues. The Freedom Fighters must grapple with the challenges of taking on a complex and resistant legal system -- one they previously battled when trying to overturn their own cases. This is a story of struggle and long odds. Chris Scott has faith that he can make a difference in the criminal justice system, but that faith is challenged as he and his fellow detectives come up against the almost impossible task of freeing a wrongfully convicted person. They have to track down eyewitnesses, try to find the real perpetrators of these crimes, and challenge the original investigations—which in some cases may include police or prosecutorial misconduct or even outright racism. In these complex investigations, they could do many things correctly, but have one missing piece, and a man could still be trapped behind bars. It’s daunting. But throughout the challenges, they remain committed to investigating cases until they crack one. In their personal lives they continue to struggle with starting over after their own exonerations, dealing with the pain of lost time and trying to make a new life with estranged family members and a somewhat unfamiliar world. Stylistically, the film is observational, following our main characters as well as their investigation of cases, in real-time, as events unfold. This will give viewers a powerful sense of being along for the telling moments of daily life and the twists and turns of the investigations. Interviews and voice-over from the True Conviction will also anchor the film, providing intimate access to these incredible men and their troubling, but ultimately inspiring stories.

Directed by

Jamie Meltzer

Produced by

David Alvarado / Kate McLean / Michael May