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New documentary series, “Encountering Attica” November 27, 2007

Posted by terilawprof in Blogging, Documentary.
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The Projecting Law Project at the University at Buffalo School of Law has undertaken a year-long project that takes a small group of first year law students out to Attica Correctional Facility, a men’s maximum security prison) six times to meet with inmates doing long sentences over the course of their first year of law school. The students (as well as correctional officers, ex-cons, prison administrators and civilian staff) are interviewed on videotape about their insights into the criminal punishment system.

The three themes of the series are: (1) why is the conversation so difficult to have (in other words, why is it so unusual for prison inmates (who have experienced the justice system firsthand) and law students (who are studying the justice system and training for careers in law) to have an extended discussion? (2) how might the views of the one group change or influence the views of the other group (and vice versa) over the course of the year? and (3) what are the costs of the current “lock them up and throw away the key” philosophy of the criminal justice system?

The Projecting Law Project is screening the first of three installments at the law school on Tuesday, Dec. 4th. The screening (of about 16 mins. of roughly edited footage) will provide a springboard for a broader conversation about criminal punishment in the 21st Century and the pros/cons of the current trends in criminal punishment and incarceration. The Dean of the Law School will lead a discussion after the screening. Since the series is an ongoing work-in-progress, the audience will actually have an opportunity to suggest to the filmmakers directions the series should take, and additional issues that could be explored.

Although the face-to-face encounters with the inmates are limited, the law school group communicates with the prisoners via a protected discussion board, as well as a public web blog at wordpress.com. So the discussion continues outside the visits themselves, and the content of these discussions is included in the footage that will eventually be edited into a full-length documentary.

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Law School Documentary July 30, 2007

Posted by James G. Milles in Documentary.
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Via Rebecca Tushnet at Georgetown Law Faculty Blog:

The Trials of Law School, a documentary film on the U.S. Law School system, will premiere at the 20th Annual Dallas Video Festival. The film will screen Sunday, August 5th, at 4:30 in the Kalita Humphries Theater. . . .

The Trials of Law School captures the stress and emotion both inside the classroom and out. The film follows eight students, with different backgrounds and expectations, as they try to juggle family and relationships with a new curriculum, a new language and a new way of life. Their journey is contrasted with insight from over 25 acclaimed law professors and legal scholars from around the country, including Taunya Banks (Maryland,) Randy Barnett (Georgetown,) David Becker (Washington St. Louis,) Angela Davis (American,) Charles Daye (Former LSDAD president,) Rich Freer (Emory, George Washington) Elizabeth Garrett (USC,) John Goldberg (Vanderbilt,) John Kidwell Wisconsin,) Paula Lustbader (Seattle,) Ruth McKinney (UNC,) Judith McMorrow (Boston College,) Rob Miller (Author, Law School Confidential,) Martha Peters (Elon,) Eric Posner (Chicago,) Richard Primus (Michigan,) Patrick Schiltz (U.S. Federal Judge,) Chris Slobogin (Florida, Stanford) David Sokolow, (University of Texas,) Mark Tushnet (Harvard,)and Elizabeth Warren (Harvard).

The film is directed and produced by attorney and filmmaker Porter Heath Morgan, who began production during his second year at the University of Oklahoma College of Law. Before law school, Morgan received his B.A. in Film and B.B.A in Marketing from Southern Methodist University. This is Morgan’s first feature documentary film.

More here.


Guantanamo Detainee on YouTube January 14, 2007

Posted by James G. Milles in Advocacy, Documentary.
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This notice comes via Michel-Adrien Sheppard, AKA Library Boy:

The Parisian daily Le Monde reported last week that lawyers representing an individual being detained by U.S. authorities at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp have produced a video posted on YouTube.

The January 11 article (“Les avocats d’un détenu de Guantanamo plaident sa cause sur Internet” = Lawyers for a Guantanamo detainee plead his case on the Net) provides a link to the 9-minute video entitled Guantanamo Unclassified.

The narrator of the piece is William Teesdale, investigator and attorney with the Federal Public Defender for the District of Oregon.

LawCulture: Policy in the form of a Comic Strip. Why not? September 27, 2006

Posted by James G. Milles in Documentary, Independent media, Podcasting.
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Some of you have no doubt already seen “Bound by Law?“–the excellent comic book on copyright and fair use produced by law professors Keith Aoki, James Boyle, and Jennifer Jenkins and distributed through the Duke Center for the Study of the Public Domain.  Jessica Silbey writes at LawCulture: Policy in the form of a Comic Strip. Why not?

This got me to thinking more about various forms a law review article could take other than the predictable one symbolized by the “road map paragraph.”  There has been plenty of blog traffic on the variety of legal scholarship (what’s in, what’s out, what counts, what doesn’t, see here and here and here, to link to only a few). But what about thinking more deeply about why we do legal scholarship. Who are we trying to reach with our arguments? Are we trying to reach an audience at all? Assuming we are, why not tailor our arguments for those readers? Other academics? Judges? Lawyers? Elected officials? Certainly, sometimes that means aiming to publish in the top journals in a fairly conventional way. But sometimes that might mean making a comic book; it might mean making a short documentary; it might mean creating podcasts; it might  mean writing across the disciplines; it might mean writing novels. There are some law professors who are more actively engaged in a popular journalistic enterprise and some who are novelists. Aoki et al are the first law professor comic book creators that I know of. Any filmmakers out there? Visual media seems the natural evolution of things, but that may be my own bias.  (Emphasis added.)

Prisoners of Katrina September 7, 2006

Posted by James G. Milles in Digital distribution, Documentary.
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Lindsay Beyerstein at Majikthise links to a BBC documentary, Prisoners of Katrina, available online in full via Google Video. Here is the description at the Google Video site:

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, while thousands fled New Orleans, the city’s prisoners were trapped. Fresh eye-witness accounts reveal what really happened to those left behind, and how crucial forensic evidence was simply washed away.

Digital media and alternative distribution models August 30, 2006

Posted by James G. Milles in Digital distribution, Documentary.
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From the blog if:book (Institute for the Future of the Book): documentary licensed through creative commons to play in second life:

Route 66: An American Bad Dream is an independent documentary film starring three Germans road tripping across the legendary US highway. What makes this film notable is that they released the film under the Creative commons license. Also, it had its premiere in the virtual world of Second Life on Aug 10th. The success of that showing prompted them to host an additional viewing this Thursday August 31 at 4PM SL in Kula 4, which will be presented by its creator Gonzo Oxberger. In the Open Source spirit of this project, they are making the video and audio project files available to anyone with a serious interest in remixing the film.

The entire film can be downloaded from the VEB Film Leipzig website.

One of the aspects of digital media that can work to empower new voices is the development of alternative means of distribution. YouTube does more than allow anyone in the world to upload pirated TV shows and funny videos of their cats taken on a cell phone. New York City-based advocacy organization The Opportunity Agenda has created a YouTube Channel, complete with RSS feed, including:

Video clips that show the state of opportunity – or lack of opportunity – in America. We feature man on the street interviews, produced video spots, mini documentaries, and other videos that we encourage people to share with their friends, and hope that social justice advocates will use in their work.

Taking advantage of existing virtual social spaces like Second Life and YouTube makes it possible to deliver audio and video content to new audiences where they are, rather than expecting the audience to come to you.