The numbers of "the exonerated"-sentenced and imprisoned men later found innocent-are rapidly growing thanks to DNA testing and courageous advocates, but no one's told their story on film until now. This tale of seven vindicated men-including one who spent 23 years in solitary confinement-may shock you; but it'll also make you think, and wonder, and believe it or not, sometimes even smile. Director Jessica Sanders (nominated for an Oscar® for Sing! and working in the family tradition-her parents are noted doc filmmakers Frieda Lee Mock and Terry Sanders) uses the case of Wilton Dedge as a suspenseful narrative line. The Innocence Project has found Dedge, who spent 22 years in prison on false rape charges, innocent when the film starts, but it still takes two years before we can follow Dedge out the door to freedom. Along the way we meet several other remarkable men, all veterans of numerous years of imprisonment on false charges; including one who says that years of in-prison therapy intended to break down his urge to commit sexual assault actually helped him adjust to life on the outside. And we learn some of the horrifying realities of the penal code system-like the fact that the acquitted are released back into the outside world without benefits or compensation. After Innocence takes us on a dramatically charged voyage into real-life nightmares that nobody thought could ever happen to them, and introduces us to exonerated men whose generosity of spirit inspires us all.
About the Director(s)Collapse
Jessica Sanders is an Academy Award®-nominated filmmaker. Her 2001 short Los Angels, which she wrote, produced, and directed, played at numerous festivals and received the Gold Plaque Award at the Chicago International Festival and the Lagniappe Best Short Film Award at the New Orleans Festival, among other honors. Also in 2001, Sanders produced the short Sing! which garnered Oscar® and Emmy® nominations. She has worked as an associate producer on the Academy Award®- winning documentary short Twin Towers and an associate producer and camera operator on Dick Wolf's NBC documentary series Crime & Punishment. Sanders is an alumna of IFP's Project: Involve and the filmmaker's fellowship program of IFP's Producer's Lab, where she was among a select group of filmmakers chosen to develop independent film projects. She is currently completing the short narrative films Stormy Weather and Pool King.