Sat., May 31
IFC and Rooftop Films Present
At the Death House Door

Pastor Carroll Pickett oversaw 95 executions at a Texas prison, but the experiences changed his views forever. chelsea market
*Venue: on the lawn at Fort Greene Park
*Directions: Enter the park near N. Portland on the Myrtle Ave. side and you'll see our big screen
*Train: take almost any train that goes into Brooklyn to get near the park | Map
* When: Saturday, May 31st, 9 PM
*Admission: No Charge
*Watch the film on IFC next week

Come to Fort Greene Park next Saturday, May 31st, to see At the Death House Door, a powerful and important new documentary by Steve James and Peter Gilbert (makers of the classic doc "Hoop Dreams"). The screening is presented by Rooftop Films and IFC and it will take place on the lovely lawn of Fort Greene Park. There is no charge for admission. After the screening there will be a Q and A and an opportunity for the audience to meet the filmmakers, so join us on the Myrtle Avenue hill for a special advance screening of the film before we officially kick off the 2008 Summer Series in June.

At the Death House Door will premiere on IFC this week.

Carroll Pickett was a pastor in Huntsville, TX—a place best known for its many prisons and high number of executions—when two of his parishioners were taken hostage in an infamous prison riot in 1974. He was called in to try to broker peace, but his friends were eventually killed, and Pickett vowed to never return to that prison.

But years later, the prison asked him to become the chaplain, and he thought he could do some valuable work for the people there. Indeed he did, until suddenly his job description changed, and he was asked to be the minister presiding over executions. Over 15 years, he attended 95 executions, each a fascinating story. And over those years, Pickett's opinion of the death penalty changed completely.

"At the Death House Door," directed by Steve James and Peter Glibert (the director and producers of “Hoop Dreams”), is a gripping, fascinating, powerful film about Pickett, about a wrongly-executed man named Carlos De Luna and his family, and about the tragic moral mistake that is the death penalty. Pickett's character unfolds with a stately grace. Being an old-fashioned Texan, he's reluctant to reveal his emotions, a trait which only makes them burn with more ferocity as you see them shine through, as you watch an amazing evolution of a man's feelings and ideology. It’s a rare and stunning transformation to see in a documentary, or in life in general.

After every execution, Pickett recorded an audio diary of what happened and what he was thinking and feeling. Until the documentary, not even his family knew these tapes existed, and watching Picket re-listening to them in the film is one of the most harrowing looks into man's soul that you’ll ever see.

Finally, the execution of Hector De Luna, a man who Pickett suspected was innocent, is enough to set the ball in motion for Pickett to leave the prison and become an anti-death penalty activist. Emotionally, Pickett was verging on self-destruction. But he harnesses these core moral disturbances and uses them (and an array of factual evidence) to fight against the death penalty. He actively campaigns now, arguing that not only is the death penalty cruel and painful, not only are there irremediable mistakes made, not is the penalty ineffective as a criminal deterrent (there are hundreds more people on death row now than there were when it was reinstated 30 years ago), but it's a fundamentally immoral act, that's "not Christian, it's not American, and it's not Texan," a moral blight on our society which makes us weaker as a people.

"I'm angry," says Rose De Luna, the sister of the wrongly-executed Hector De Luna. "Stay that way," Pickett says.

** Watch At the Death House Door on IFC! **