Last Day of Freedom is a new, short documentary that follows the story of Bill Babbitt and his younger brother, Manny. It has already sparked conversations around the country, and now the it’s gaining momentum as a contender for an Academy Award.
The film centers on the moral challenges Bill faces when he learns Manny has committed a crime. Bill narrates, sharing Manny’s life journey from childhood to his hardships after returning from the Vietnam War. He navigates complex questions surrounding mental health access, veterans’ care, and criminal justice. We love the way the film uses animation to tell the powerful story.
“The animation adds a tiny layer of distance, and it really allows for the viewer to take in the story and really listen to the human voice,” said co-director/producer Nomi Talisman.
EJUSA Campaign Strategist Mona Cadena started working with Talisman and co directors/producer Dee Hibber-Jones in 2012, meeting at their local coffee shop in San Francisco to brainstorm about the project. Mona helped identify themes in death penalty debate that would help shape the story.
Manny Babbitt suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and a brain injury when he returned from the Vietnam War. He never received adequate health treatment. Then he did the unthinkable. Bill made the heart-wrenching decision to turn his brother in when he suspected Manny had committed a crime. That decision ultimately led to Manny’s conviction in 1982 and his execution by the state of California in 1999.
In just a short amount of time, the film paints a richly detailed portrait of two brothers and the way the death penalty is connected to other aspects of the criminal justice system and effects many lives beyond those executed.
Towards the end of the film, Bill Babbitt says, “We are all taking part of the same experiment. We all have blood on our hands.” From the storytelling and animation comes an understanding that we all are impacted by cases such as Manny’s.
“This is just part of a larger conversation that needs to happen,” said Talisman.
Winner of the Jury Award for Best Short and Center for Documentary Studies Filmmaker Award at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in April, Last Day of Freedom continues to receive widespread acclaim for the personal arc that makes the film so moving.
Watch the Last Day of Freedom trailer:
Visit the film’s website for updates and the latest schedule of screenings – www.lastdayoffreedom.net
Kala Art Institute – Berkeley, CA
Through December 5, 2015
DOK Leipzig, Germany
10/30/15: Passage Kinos Wintergarten, 10:00 pm
11/1/15: Cinematheque Leipzig, 3:30 pm
St. Louis International Film Festival
Doc Shorts: Animation
Monday, November 9th at 5:00 pm
Rocky Mountain Women’s Film Festival
Cornerstone Arts Center, Richard F. Celeste Theater
Boulder Springs, CO
Sunday, November 15, 2015 11:10am
Documentary 2015: Origins and Inventions
The Center for Documentary Studies (CDS) Duke University Durham, NC
Last Day of Freedom screening and a panel, Friday, 11/20 4:30