A Murder in the Park
Release Date: June 26 Director: Christopher S. Rech, Brandon Kimber
Everybody loves a good innocent-man-wrongly-accused documentary (particularly this viewer); Rech and Kimber’s fascinating documentary turns that feel-good premise on its head. They tell, in painstaking and often unforgiving detail, the story of Anthony Porter, considered by many the man who ended Illinois’ death penalty in 1999, when his conviction for a pair of 1982 murders was overturned thanks to the efforts of the Innocence Project. But the usual question of judicial error becomes one of journalistic malfeasance, as the men in charge of that project were revealed, some time later, to have (irony of ironies) pursued a flawed investigation, ignored evidence, coerced false confessions, and put an innocent man behind bars for years. The filmmaking is mostly pedestrian — the deep-voiced narration couples with the flat reenactments to create the look and feel of a History Channel special — but the storytelling is riveting, with the twists and turns of a good thriller. And the questions it asks, about who you can trust on either side of the law, are messy, challenging, and provocative.