Public interest topic of annual event featuring documentaries, keynote speakers
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The William S. Boyd School of Law hosted its second annual Public Interest Law Film Festival Thursday and Friday, aiming to increase public interest in the legal field by investigating what makes legal processes and penalties fair and legitimate.
The Thomas and Mack Moot Courtroom served as a screening room for various documentaries with its windows covered and projectors displaying films on screens to crowds of law students and professors and other guests.
A year ago law professor Ann Cammett came up with the idea to have a film festival featuring documentaries of real people’s lives and focused on public interest law. She created a committee to see the project through.
Cammett said her prior career sparked her interest in developing the event.
“I used to be an art director before I went to law school,” she said, “so I’m interested in film as a medium for communication. I wanted an event that would bring in community members and students around the campus to explore ideas in an environment that was fun. It turned out so well that we would do it every year.”
This year’s film festival was planned during the spring semester, when the committee selected films to play, filmmakers to invite and speakers to lead discussions.
Matthew Wright, head of collections at Boyd School of Law and inherited chair of this year’s Film Festival committee, said “although we can’t have the filmmaker of every film come in and speak, we wanted to find local expertise in areas regarding the film who could talk about it.”
The festival featured the documentary films Crime after Crime, Hot Coffee and abUSed and guest speakers Yoav Potash, a filmmaker, United States Representative Dina Titus and closing keynote speaker Nevada Supreme Court Justice Michael L. Douglas.
Potash’s Crime After Crime began the festival by demonstrating power’s potential for corruption and its impact on legal legitimacy through the dramatic story of Debbie Peagler and a perjuring prosecuting system.
Cammett said she hopes the film festival expands as it progresses.
“We’re interested in building community support for this event next year and bigger outreach for younger people,” she said.
Wright said he was relieved once the film festival began.
“The event was so much work preparing that I was really delighted that when it started that I could just relax,” he said.
A round-table discussion in relation to collateral consequences of criminal convictions was moderated by University of California, Davis School of Law professor Gabriel Chin, Bonnie Polley of the Christ Church Episcopal and Districts 8 and 9 Nevada State Assemblymen Jason Frierson and Richard Segerblom.
Legitimacy, Process and Penalty was the theme of this year’s festival.
Titus introduced the recurrent motif — power– and its impact on the legal situations presented throughout the films.
Visiting assistant professor Angela Morrison’s discussion and questions and answer session following the film abUSed showed how those who lack knowledge of the legal process, such as many immigrants, are essentially powerless and highly susceptible to injustice.
Justice Douglas closed illustrating the difficulties and problems those in power, such as legislatures, run into when making hard decisions and the duality of them.
All of the films screened during the festival are available in reserves at the Wiener-Rogers Law Library.
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