Thursday, July 22, 2010

Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky

Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky's Brother's Keeper (1992) shows the cinematic power of a well-crafted courtroom documentary made over a long time period. The film documents the case of Delbert Ward, accused of killing one of his brothers in the home they shared in rural New York State. Berlinger and Sinofsky got to know the three remaining Ward brothers and their community in the months leading up to the trial. The film's affection and understanding of this community is what distinguishes it from facile or exploitative television coverage. Delbert Ward's neighbors and friends (some of them, above) get plenty of screen time, often in close-up. As exemplars of common-sense and decency, they build our empathy for a suspect who has far less on-screen appeal.
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Documentary Starts Here by Nancy Kalow is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.