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The Trials of Darryl Hunt
The Trials of Darryl Hunt
Actor: Darryl Hunt
Directors: Anne Sundberg, Ricki Stern
Genres: Documentary, Mystery & Suspense
PG-13     2007     1hr 46min

This documents the aftermath of a brutal rape/murder & wrongful conviction in the modern american south. Told from the point of view of an investigative journalist an unyielding defense attorney & a wrongfully convicted ma...  more »

     
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Movie Details

Actor: Darryl Hunt
Directors: Anne Sundberg, Ricki Stern
Creators: Alan Jacobsen, John Foster, William Rexer, Anne Sundberg, Ricki Stern, Shannon Kennedy, Katie Brown
Genres: Documentary, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Documentary, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Velocity / Thinkfilm
Format: DVD - Color,Full Screen,Widescreen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 10/16/2007
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 1hr 46min
Screens: Color,Full Screen,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 4
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Languages: English
Subtitles: Spanish

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Member Movie Reviews

Steven H. (sehamilton) from BIRMINGHAM, AL
Reviewed on 2/26/2010...
A documentary worth watching. The racism motivating the prosecutorial misconduct that kept an innocent man in prison for 19 years is numbing; that's the only way to get through a film that chronicles such injustice. The American way of justice may be the best on earth, but as this movie convincing portrays, it's far from perfect.

Movie Reviews

Is an intensely focused, highly compelling study of racism a
E. Lavallee | New York | 11/07/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Film Review:
Official 2006 Sundance selection, The Trials of Daryl Hunt (Ricki Stern, Annie Sundberg) is an intensely focused, highly compelling study of racism and miscarriage of justice in North Carolina, almost twenty years in the making. It is the story of young black man wrongly accused of the rape and murder of a young white woman and the blatant ignorance and criminal negligence of the justice system which condemns and nearly destroys Daryl Hunt, while covering up its own errors and allowing the actual killer to remain at large. It is bizarre to watch the proceedings, and the court constantly denying a man his freedom (19 years of jail time) in the face of wholly unreliable witnesses, a lack of a murder weapon and even DNA evidence. The prosecution seems to desperately grasp at any possible scenario which may allow that they had the right criminal all along.

Even when the man is finally released, it is with prejudice. We learn of police intimidation of real witnesses and the viewer can only imagine that the entire system is trying to erase all trace of its shoddy prosecution and save face while a man longs for freedom. As angering as the film can be, it is also inspiring to watch Hunt remain gentle, strong and hopeful, even thankful to his supporters, friends and defense lawyers with a true sense of justice-by the end of the film, which is full of candid moments of his support team, we know that all these men have suffered along with Hunt. It is a familiar story of racism and a corrupt legal system; but the filmmakers, using archival as well as present day footage, crime scene photos, audio recordings, court proceedings and compassionate interviews of most everyone involved with the case (minus the arresting/interrogating officers) manage to envelope the viewer with the story.

Disc Review:
There is an apology at the beginning of the film regarding some of the sound and visual qualities of the degraded source material. This is obviously unavoidable, and the exclusion of these aspects would detract from the thoroughness and realism. To their credit, the filmmakers have transferred the source material to anamorphic wide-screen, and this certainly helps.

The sound is 5.1 stereo and the marching, ambient musical soundtrack comes of as quite haunting and evocative. It works well combined with the film.

There are a decent supply of extras, including deleted scenes and bonus interviews with those involved with the case and an especially poignant 24 minute HBO interview with Regina Lane, a woman who fought off the real killer, whose profile fit strikingly with Hunt's case, while he was incarcerated. The police silenced Lane and chose to ignore the obvious lead.

Overall:
A thoroughly well-crafted documentary, captivating and devastating for its entirety."
American Injustice at Its Finest
Jeffrey R. Johnson | Orlando, FL United States | 05/15/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Serving 30 years imprisonment for a crime he did not commit, Darryl Hunt's very real story of long overdue vindication and a justice system to eager to place blame and not actively seek Truth is a great testament to one man's indefatiguable spirit as well as the importance and value of DNA evidence in the exoneration of the innocent as well as conviction of the guilty. From HBO Documentary Films, it is yet another in their long line of truly exceptional effort to raise the bar on documentary filmmaking all the while providing quality entertainment."
Depressing and uplifting documentary
Roland E. Zwick | Valencia, Ca USA | 09/29/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"On August 10, 1984, Deborah Sykes, a young, white newspaper editor living in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, was brutally raped and murdered by an unknown assailant. Suspicion quickly fell on a black man by the name of Darryl Hunt, even though no weapon or physical evidence linking him to the crime was ever brought forth by the police investigating the case. This meant that Hunt was essentially convicted of 1st degree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment solely on the basis of what even the most disinterested of observers would conclude was eyewitness testimony of a shockingly shoddy nature. Due to the racist overtones that inevitably attach themselves to such a crime, the case quickly became a cause celebre in the press, leading to stark racial divisions in the community and to various retrials over the years.

Ricki Stern and Anne Sundberg, the makers of "The Trials of Darryl Hunt," began actively chronicling the events of this story at around the time of the second trial. They've combined file footage - i.e. news reports and interviews - from the time of the original trial with what they themselves have filmed over a decade and a half of involvement with the case. The result is an eye-opening but often depressing look at the sorry state of the legal system in this country. Yet, the movie is also a celebration of those who never gave up fighting for the cause of justice not merely for this one man and others like him but for the system itself.

Most impressive of all is Hunt himself, who despite being incarcerated for a crime he didn't commit, has managed to hold onto a purity of spirit that shines forth through his every word and action. I doubt many of us could endure such an ordeal and still emerge this untainted and optimistic about life. But somehow Hunt has.

This tremendously moving film will have you thinking long and hard about just how difficult it can be for a single individual to achieve true justice in this world, but it will also leave you with the hope that, thanks to people like Darryl Hunt and those - both black and white - who have stood and fought alongside him for so long now, the situation just might get a whole lot better in the future."