One For Ten: challenging the death penalty

By Coralie Tapper
21 Aug 2013

Bringing tough issues to everyday people, giving access to the real questions and answers, exposing the reality of capital punishment and the death penalty within the United States justice system, and all at the click of a button.

One ForTen is a series of interactive documentary short films about innocence and death row. Directors Mark Pizzey and Will Francome visited Edinburgh recently as part of Just Festival to share the real stories of ten exonerees across the United States.

The concept was derived from the fact that for every ten people that have been executed since the death penalty reinstatement in the US in 1976, only one person has been set free.

In just five weeks, the duo drove across eighteen states to visit ten people who have been wrongfully convicted of crimes they did not commit. Twice a week along their journey Mark and Will would drive, shoot, edit, upload and share creative, common, democratic short documentaries with their followers and the rest of the world.

Connected through various social media outlets such as facebook, twitter and the online website, their supporters were invited on a trip of discovery and exposure. This allowed them no only complete access and encouragement for their viewers to get involved in this issue, but to ask questions, give advice and share support.

As Mark puts it: “We wanted our audience to be the one asking the questions, we promised them that we would ask every question. Sometimes it was the hardest, most offensive questions which would hit a spark and cause some sort of reaction”.

Many of the ten exonerees spent over 10 years on death row, with no hope of any life or future. They were away from their families, restrained from the option of ever having a family, and in one case prevented from saving the life of one of their relatives from cancer.

One For Ten is giving these survivors, these innocent few, the chance to spread awareness of what is not only a serious issue in the US, but in the rest of the world. Still today fifty-eight countries around the world permit the death penalty and capital punishment.

The lives of these exonerees have been changed forever, but the justice system continues to exist in turmoil.

“We had done a lot of research in to each of the specific cases, you don’t think you will be surprised at the evidence and facts. However when speaking to some of these people and hearing their stories, I was shocked how many things surprised me”.

The ten different short films each feature a different theme; an issue that was a common reoccurrence for almost all exonerated cases. Racism, perjury and false accusation, expert witness testimony, DNA evidence and poor public defence council, to name a few. These concerns are compounded by forensic failures which are continuously being discovered. No effective action is being taken and innocent people are still being executed.

At the Just Festival screening, Mark and Will passionately discussed their own views and experience on this journey and campaign. They came across as wise and encouraging to those who are wanting to challenge the way we see our justice system, to question this system at every opportunity, and to help a campaign to end the death penalty.

This self-funded project was created and made possible by four compassionate filmmakers, and by organisations and supporters from around the world.

The series of documentaries is available for viewing and download on the One.For.Ten website. http://www.oneforten.com/

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(c) Coralie Tapper has been a volunteer at the 2013 Just Festival in Edinburgh. She has studied journalism. This article is also available on Just Festival News (http://justfestivalnews.blogspot.co.uk).

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