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« March 15, 2013

SXSW 2013 Film Reviews: 'An Unreal Dream: The Michael Morton Story'

A haunting tale of wrongful conviction told by a man astonishingly free of rancor
Review by Robert Faires

An Unreal Dream: The Michael Morton Story

Documentary Spotlight, World premiere
D: Al Reinert; with Michael Morton

In recounting Michael Morton's wrongful conviction for murder and his eventual exoneration after 25 years in Texas prisons, filmmaker Al Reinert (For All Mankind) gets up close and personal. He has Morton himself tell the tale, from a seat in the very courtroom where this innocent man was found guilty of savagely beating his wife, Christine, to death and was handed a life sentence. The Kafkaesque scenario and its long, cruel aftermath – the isolation and harshness of prison life, estrangement from his son – are haunting, and yet Morton doesn't look to be a haunted man. Reinert keeps the camera so tightly focused on him that we come to know every crease on his face, and it's astonishingly free of rancor. Our sense of Morton's serenity – truly a peace that passeth all understanding – is buttressed by testimony from the attorneys who fought for his freedom and, most tellingly, the men who were with him behind bars. That character fills this all-too-familiar story of injustice and absolution with a uniquely generous, moving spirit.

Saturday, March 16, 4pm, Topfer
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