Thursday, June 19, 2014

Ray Klonsky and Marc Lamy's DAVID & ME opens 8th annual Manhattan Film Festival at the Quad

The yearly Manhattan Film Festival will open its eighth run tomorrow at the Quad Cinema in New York City (click here for complete schedule and tickets). The only film TrustMovies has managed to see in advance is a worthwhile documentary entitled DAVID & ME that probes the so-called justice in our justice system, with emphasis on Brooklyn, NY -- a borough that has an increasingly disgusting record of forced confessions and wrongful convictions, to which this new documentary adds another nail in the coffin of former D.A. Charles Hynes' equally disgusting career. Unless, of course, that old phrase, "The fish stinks from the head" has no bearing here. Not that Brooklyn is alone is all this: See The Central Park Five to get a taste of Manhattan's contribution to injustice.

The film is the work of the Klonsky family up in Toronto, the father/son team of journalist Ken (above, left) and his offspring Ray (above, right). It was Ken who initially interested his son in the story of prison inmate David McCallum (shown at bottom) -- whom Ken thought to be innocent of the crime of murder for which David was convicted and for which he has already spent nearly 30 years behind bars. Ray himself was a troubled teen whom his father hoped to protect from getting any further involved in crime. When it came time to make the actual movie, Ray was joined by his friend Marc Lamy (shown below) and together they shot the doc.

Once Ray and David begin communicating via letters, a bond is formed that results in Ray's determination to see his friend freed. The more we learn about the original case, the less likely David's guilt appears. A forced confession (not difficult to achieve when your suspect is a boy of 16 years), witnesses who should have been called to testify (but weren't), mis-identification and lots of other either poor or deliberately bad investigation muddies up this sleazy case. Getting parole would mean that David must admit to the crime itself -- something he says he will never do, even if he must spend the rest of his life in prison.

The late Hurricane Carter (above), himself a wrongly convicted man, comes into the picture, trying, as well, to help David. We meet David's family and get to know them a little, as we hope along with them that something can be done to address the wrong committed here.

The movie itself is clearly a first-time venture for Klonsky and Lamy. Overall, there does not seem like quite enough content to fill even the 70 minutes the film lasts. The pacing occasionally lags and the content seems somewhat repetitive, while the back and forth between the Klonsky and McCallum families (the later is shown above), David himself (shown below and at bottom with Ray) and the ins-and-outs of the case appear a little scattershot. Health problems see to it that Mr. Carter soon withdraws from things, and the private detective who becomes involved can achieve little of the kind of headway needed to make real waves.

Still, the bare bones of David's case appear enough to turn thoughtful heads to his cause. But because we live in a society that does not make wrongful convictions at all easy to overturn (from birth, it seems, human beings should be trained to admit their mistakes), so far, injustice is still being served. This alone makes David & Me a must-see.

After appearing at the Hot Docs fest (where it was voted one of the top 20 films), the documentary plays the Quad tomorrow, Friday, June 20, at 7:15pm. Let's hope it will eventually be shown elsewhere, too.

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