3 1/2 MINUTES, TEN BULLETS
TYPE: Documentary Feature
STATUS: In Distribution
3 ½ MINUTES dissects the shooting death of 17-year-old Jordan Davis, the aftermath of this systemic tragedy and contradictions within the American criminal justice system.
In 2005, the state of Florida passed into law the Stand Your Ground statute stating that “a person has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground” in a confrontation. Frequently referred to as the “shoot first” law, the effects of this legislation have been felt ever since as it is used in ways never envisioned. Justifiable homicides have risen 200 percent and self-defense claims have tripled in Florida as this malleable law is contorted into a one-size-fits-all defense. In order to invoke the Stand Your Ground defense, an individual doesn’t have to prove they were threatened, merely that they felt threatened. Rather than just weighing the facts, juries are now tasked with having to understand the psyches of defendants.
The documentary film 3 ½ MINUTES tells the story of the brief deadly encounter that occurred between Michael Dunn and Jordan Davis one evening in late 2012. That night Jordan, an unarmed black teenager argued with Mr. Dunn, a middle aged white man, over the volume of the boy’s music. Jordan had a sharp tongue. Mr. Dunn had a loaded gun. The end was all too easy to predict.
Prosecutor Angela Corey believed this was a clear-cut trial. With an abundance of evidence and witnesses, she and her team presented a thorough case against Dunn. Dunn’s attorney, Cory Strolla had a far more uphill battle and no concrete facts to support his client’s claims. But Mr. Strolla had one ace up his sleeve – Stand Your Ground. In the end the jury could not come to a decision and a mistrial was declared.
3 ½ MINUTES details the impact of Jordan’s death on his family and the community. Ron and Lucy, Jordan’s parents, typify the ideals of a modern American family. They worked hard, they raised their only child with love and diligence. They cannot understand a system that fails to arrive at justice for their son. In the eighteen months since Jordan was killed, the film chronicles both parents facing their loss with grace.
Lucy assumes the mantle for all mothers who have lived through the most unimaginable tragedy. She takes her fight against the Stand Your Ground statute and other reckless gun laws across the country. Now a national spokeswoman, she has testified before the US Senate and lives a life of interviews and appearances. Ron finds his solace in the city where he lives and where Jordan died. He reaches out to the community to help others deal with their own losses. He reflects daily on his son. He assumes the quiet dignity of a man who has known the worst sort of pain and has learned that life goes on.
The film’s exclusive access to the entirety of the trial including interviews with both prosecution and defense attorneys. The clinical presentation of the crime inside the courtroom is a dramatic juxtaposition to the intimacy established with the family. The trial plays out like a story within a story. Outside of the courtroom, the deeper implications and emotions of the case are examined as the film details the family’s immeasurable loss, while exposing the systemic racism that so definitively played into this fatal encounter.
In Florida alone, justifiable homicides have risen by 200 percent since self-defense laws were expanded. In states around the country, handgun sales immediately increase as Stand Your Ground laws are passed. The question for the American public is whether this shift is making the country safer. That is the question we want to explore through the film. 3 ½ MINUTES demonstrates what troubles and divides this country. Our justice system is based on of the bedrock of equality and the clarity of jurors’ prudence in our courts. We live in a country with the most diversity in the world as well as extraordinary wealth disparity. Therefore, our institutions of justice represent the idea of equality under the law. The ability to have a clear application of the law is so essential to a healthy society. As the self-defense laws continue to pass throughout the country, the public has to have a voice in this conversation.
Ron, Lucy and Jordan show that this can happen to anyone. They were a middle-class family with a well-rounded son who never committed a crime but yet became a victim of a crime. The question is how does the larger public become engaged in a conversation around gun safety and the presence of guns in public spaces in our society? We don’t have the answers but we have an opportunity to start the conversation.
The film’s exclusive access to the entirety of the trial offers the audience a close lens on a justice system that is burdened by these dramatic shifts in our self-defense laws. We are inviting our audience to witness competing tensions within the courtroom and understand how they mirror an ongoing conflict outside the halls of justice. By juxtaposing the sterile, fact driven argument made by the prosecution against the emotional investment of the community outside the courthouse, the deeper implications of this case are exposed. Brought to the surface are the historic, moral and legal consequences which all drove events to the murder of Jordan Davis.
It is of utmost importance to put a face on tragic loss just as it is important to witness the internal process of the criminal court. In this film it is clear that each is challenged by these new self-defense laws. But the potential of public participation is demonstrated by the ultimate empowerment of Jordan’s parents: Ron Davis' and Lucy McBath’s rise from grief-stricken parents to national activists fighting for justice – not just for Jordan but for everyone. They also fight for a justice system that is fair, that is swift and that is clear. It is through their presence in this film that we see this need to engage this conversation. But their loss should not be the motivation for the rest of us – we should have the need to engage in this conversation about justice and our public safety on our own.
Marc Silver - Director
Marc Silver is a documentary filmmaker based in London. His first feature-length film, Who Is Dayani Cristal? premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Cinematography Award for World Cinema (Documentary) and opened theatrically in April 2014. Marc’s rich portfolio includes documentaries, concert visuals, art installations and branding. He has created content for the BBC, Channel 4, Universal Music, Sony, The Guardian, The New York Times, Amnesty International, UNHCR and The Global Fund and collaborated with artists such as Gael Garcia Bernal, Nitin Sawhney, Michael Nyman, Jamie Cullum, Ben Okri, Matthew Herbert and Cirque Du Soleil.
Orlando Bagwell - Executive Producer
Orlando Bagwell is currently President/Filmmaker of Lakehouse Productions, Inc. and was the founding Director of the JustFilms media content fund at the Ford Foundation, responsible for the Foundation’s global program in this field. In 2004, Orlando Bagwell joined the Ford Foundation as the new Media Production Program Officer in the Media, Arts and Culture unit. Orlando has a distinguished career of over 25 years as an independent filmmaker and producer. His long list of achievements includes 4 Emmy Awards and numerous Emmy nominations, 3 George Peabody Awards, and the 1994 New York Film Festival Grand Prize, among many others. He was one of the lead producers/directors of Blackside, Inc., and its award-winning series, Eyes on the Prize, and was Executive Vice President in charge of production for this pre-eminent film company from 1991-94. Since 1989 he has been President/Filmmaker of Roja Productions, Inc.
Bonni Cohen - Executive Producer
For the last 15 years, together with her partner, Jon Shenk, Bonni Cohen has run Actual Films in San Francisco, an independent production company that produces documentary films for wide theatrical and broadcast release. Bonni recently produced The Island President, winner of the Audience Award at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival, was released theatrically by Sam Goldwyn Films in 2012 and recently broadcast on PBS' Independent Lens series. She produced and directed Inside Guantanamo for which she was nominated for an Emmy for Best Documentary in 2010. She produced and directed The Rape of Europa that was short-listed for the Oscars, nominated for two Emmy Awards and Best Documentary Screenplay by the Writers Guild of America. Actual Films also produced Lost Boys of Sudan, winner of the Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary. Bonni Cohen is also the co-founder of The Catapult Film Fund with Lisa K. Chanoff which funds the development of story-driven documentaries.
Julie Goldman - Executive Producer
Julie Goldman is an Emmy Award-winning producer of documentary feature films. Julie produced We Are The Giant, which premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival; The Great Invisible, which recently won the SXSW Grand Jury Prize; and two new films, 1971 and Art and Craft, which premiered at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival. In 2013, Julie was executive producer of The Kill Team, and produced three films that premiered in the U.S. Documentary Competition at Sundance: Gideon’s Army, Manhunt and the Oscar shortlisted God Loves Uganda. She produced Participant Media’s A Place at the Table, which won the IDA Pare Lorentz Award and executive produced the Oscar shortlisted Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry. Julie produced Buck, winner of the Sundance Documentary Audience Award, shortlisted for an Academy Award and one of 2011’s top five grossing documentaries. Julie consulted on the Academy Award-winning The Cove and produced the Oscar shortlisted Sergio.
Minette Nelson - Producer
Minette Nelson spent 15 years producing television commercials for national and multi-national clients including Coca Cola, Nabisco, Johnson and Johnson, Prudential, Nestle and others. The results of that work were profiled in articles in Advertising Age and New York Magazine. Looking for greater fulfillment she left the corporate world of marketing and began working solely in the non-profit sector as a paid consultant as well as serving on the boards of several organizations. She was a founding member of two NPOs still flourishing today. She produced promotional films, wrote grants and appeals as well annual reports for those organizations and others. She was commissioned by the National Ability Center to write and design their anniversary book, “Rising to the Challenge,” chronicling their 20 year history of working with people with disabilities. In 2008 she was contracted to produce a segment for “Profiles in Caring,” which aired on ABC about American education efforts in Ghana. In 2012, she and philanthropist, David Eckles, formed the BCF film fund under his existing Blueprint for Communities Foundation for the purposes of helping filmmakers shed light on social injustice. A long time opponent of loose gun legislation in this country, Minette saw the Stand Your Ground dilemma as the right battle at the right time and approached Marc Silver with the story that eventually evolved into 3 ½ Minutes.
Carolyn Hepburn - Producer
Carolyn Hepburn joined Motto Pictures in 2010 and was Line Producer on two films for Motto that premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival: God Loves Uganda, shortlisted for the 2014 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, and Gideon's Army, winner of the Sundance Film Festival’s Best Editing Award. She worked as the Production Executive of We Are The Giant, which premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and executive produced Art and Craft directed by Sam Cullman and Jennifer Grausman which was short listed for 2015 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Carolyn produced 3½ Minutes which won the Special Jury Prize for Social Impact at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. She is currently line producing the documentary Fellove, directed by Matt Dillon and as well as co-producing Ivy Meeropol’s new documentary Indian Point and The Punch directed by Andre Hörmann.
Su Patel - Impact Producer
Suvasini Patel is a communications professional and social justice advocate with more than ten years experience in nonprofits, education and journalism. Most recently, she was the associate director of communications at a poverty research center at New York University where she helped to position the organization as a thought leader in the field. While leading the communications efforts of WITNESS, the human rights group founded by Peter Gabriel, the organization was awarded The New York Times Co. Nonprofit Excellence Award for Communications. As the Deputy Director of Special Projects at Bill Moyers' Public Affairs Television and as the High Impact TV Director at P.O.V. she developed dozens of online and community-based campaigns with scores of national and local partners and public television stations in support of some of the most pressing social causes of our times including the environment, immigration, race relations, gender and criminal justice issues.
Emiliano Battista - Editor
Emiliano Battista is a London based film editor. Over the last 10 years he has cut a variety of award winning feature documentaries, dramas and tv programs. Titles include: The Concrete Revolution and How is your Fish Today? with Chinese novelist and film-maker Xiaolu Guo, Every Good Marriage Begins in Tears (Simon Chambers), The Intimacy of Strangers, The Solitary Life of Cranes, Black Out (Eva Weber), Elvis Pelvis (Kevin Aduaka), Dolce Vita Africana (Cosima Spender), Virgin Goat (Murali Nair), The Runner (Saeed Taji Farouky) , The Auction House: a Tale of Two Brothers (Ed Owels). Emiliano has also worked on multi-screen documentary installations shown in major exhibitions and museums worldwide: All That is Solid Melts into Air and No Permanent Address (Mark Boulos).
Gideon Gold - Editor
Gideon Gold began his career directing the title sequence to The Football Factory and directing the behind the scenes film of It's All Gone Pete Tong, both multiple award winning films with the British production company Vertigo Films. He went on to direct, film and edit his own documentary feature film which premiered at The International Berlin Film Festival in 2007. The film was a hit on the international film festival circuit, playing in four continents. It was on this movie that he discovered editing, which is his predominant field of practice to this day. Now, solely a film editor, Gideon has cut feature films on Sonny Rollins, Lance Armstrong and garnered 9 international awards for editing the feature doc Jason Becker- Not Dead Yet. He has also recently edited two fiction movies directed by maverick Russian director Ilya Khrzanovsky and produced by Lars Von Trier's producer Philippe Bober. Gideon was the recipient of a David Lean Scholarship 2009 & 2010 and Screen West Award for film editing at the National Film & Television School, where he graduated with a Double Distinction.
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