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Heroes for a Semester

.
Axel Breuer / 2012

Chicago. A man has been innocently imprisoned – for more than twenty years. All appeals have been rejected, and he is condemned to serving a life sentence. His only chance is a handful of law students. At the Northwestern University, several groups of students are working on cases that even top American lawyers don’t dare to tackle: cases of innocence without DNA proof. These are real life legal exercises: there is no evidence of the guilt of the people they look after – but no evidence of their innocence either – only the prisoners’ own statement.


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Running Time: 52 min.
Subject(s): Conflicts, Crime, Law and Justice, Society
Language(s): English
Director(s):
Producer(s): Florian Gebhardt
Cinematographer: Dani Purer
Editor(s): Stine Sonne Munch, see all »
Production Company: Gebhardt Productions

Press

  • Turns on young European students at the NWU of Chicago who found evidence for the innocence of Marcus Wiggins, a man who had been innocently convicted for 46 years in prison.
    Variety

Festival & Awards

  • Vienna - 2014
  • American Documentary Film Festival - 2014
  • Fort Myers Film Festival
  • MiFF Milano
  • LIFF Luzern

additional materials

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Distribution Company:

  • Director's Statement

    My situation: I am in my mid-twenties. I am a student at a University. My parents pay several tens of thousands of dollars per year for my education. I am predestined to belong to the upper middle class or even the upper class. I am almost guarenteed to earn huge amounts of money upon graduation. I decided to apply for an internship that would look good on my resume and make me feel good about myself. I felt secure knowing that I am doing the right thing.

    The reality: From the mintue I choose to do this I become entwined in the destiny of an innocent woman/man. Someone whose life has been completely destroyed in a miscarriage of justice and who is locked behind bars. Some of the inmates were arrested when they were the same age as the volunteers and I are now. We meet the inmates, now aged between forty to fifty. They have tried everything: they have filed objections, applied for the case to be dismissed, they have tried to go to a higher authority. Some of them have written hundreds of letters, some even thousands with no response. And then a volunteer program replies…out of the blue there is hope.

    The next day I am sitting opposite a man who considers me his last hope for rescue, freedom, rehabilitation….

    At this moment my theoretical studies are over and real life kicks in: his fate lies in my hands. How will I deal with that? What should be my approach? Can I bear this burden? What is my internal struggle?
    There is a giaganitc intectual shift from theory into reality. There is a transformation …from me, just a student – into a viable and capable human being, a human being passionately standing up for my convictions.

    This trip is a journey I am more than interested to take.

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