CONVICTION, the much-anticipated documentary short by up-and-coming female film director Jia Wertz, in partnership with Tribe Builder Media, is set to debut at the NewFilmmakers New York on April 8, 2020. The film will release at the Anthology Film Archives in the East Village in Manhattan.
The intimate documentary captures one man’s three-decade struggle to fight the justice system. The film explores the aftereffects of growing up in prison after the coerced confession and subsequent conviction of Jeffrey Deskovic for the rape and murder of fifteen-year-old Angela Correa. Correa mysteriously disappeared on November 15, 1989, in Peekskill, New York after going out with a portable cassette player and a camera for a project for her photography class. Two days later, the young girl’s body was found beaten, raped and murdered.
The subsequent conviction of fellow classmate, sixteen-year-old Deskovic, has been widely discussed in the media and on television. Deskovic’s story aired on ID Discovery’s Shadow Of Doubt, season 2, episode titled A New Girl In Town and has been covered in the New York Times several times.
CONVICTION tells the story of Deskovic’s life from the moment two undercover detectives approached him on his way to high school, to his coerced confession to the murder, and the sixteen years he spent in maximum-security prison.
The documentary looks at the aftereffects of growing up in prison, faults of the American justice system, the impact it can have on family members and relationships, and the stigma of having gone to prison, innocent or not.
“Working with Jeffrey has been such an honor. He is a filmmaker’s ideal subject — not only is he a great person who has dedicated his life to helping others, but he is also very candid and open about his life experiences, and extremely supportive of the process and the project,” says Wertz.
It is estimated that about 10,000 people in the United States are wrongfully convicted of serious crimes each year and some are even facing execution. Statistically, 4.1% of Death Row inmates are innocent and at least 340 of them may have been executed since 1973.
“My mission in the world is to fight wrongful conviction – that is how I make sense of the 16 years of wrongful imprisonment that I endured. The criminal justice system as it’s currently constructed is broken, and that is why I work to pass laws aimed at preventing what happened to me from happening to others and to helping free those it has already happened to. I can’t forget about the men and women I metaphorically left behind. While I have achieved some modest success in helping to free seven wrongfully convicted people and helping to pass six laws, there is a lot of work still to be done nationally and internationally because wrongful conviction is a worldwide problem. It happened to me, and it can happen to you,” says Deskovic.
Directed by Jia Wertz, the female director’s debut film has quickly gained traction in the film festival circuit. CONVICTION been accepted into numerous film festivals within its first month of release, including:
- The Independent Cinema Showcase in Los Angeles
- New York Cinematography Awards
- Cannes International Independent Film Festival
- New Filmmakers New York Film Festival
Screening cities and dates can be found at jiawertz.com/event.