'Writ Writer' on Texas' Penal System Woes
SXSW alum Writ Writer to premiere on PBS
By Belinda Acosta, 3:10PM, Thu. May. 29, 2008
The Texas penal system is once again the subject of a documentary, this one by producer/director Susanne Mason (Are the Kids Alright?), airing on PBS' Independent Lens. Writ Writer (which world-premiered at SXSW Film 2008) tells the story of Fred Arispe Cruz. Convicted in 1960 for a robbery he says he didn’t commit, he became a self-taught lawyer to appeal his case, eventually becoming a trusted advocate for prisoners. His watershed case, Cruz v. Beto, was filed to protest prisoners’ human rights violations and is credited with bringing about huge prison reforms in Texas.
Mason has previously written and directed documentaries for the Save Our Springs Alliance and other short films about Austin. San Antonio-born actor Jesse Borrego (24, The New World) provides the voice over as Cruz, in words culled from his personal diaries, letters, and public courtroom presentations. Austin-based writer Dagoberto Gilb adapted Cruz’s narration for the film. Writ Writer premieres Tuesday, June 3, at 9pm on PBS.