British filmmaker John Edginton turned his focus towards the controversial case of Mumia Abu-Jamal in 1997, putting out the documentary Mumia Abu-Jamal: A Case for Reasonable Doubt? and featuring, for the first time, an exclusive interview from one of America’s most “celebrated” death row inmates.
Fast-forward over ten years later and this wonderful documentary has finally found its way to DVD. Released by Docurama Films, this film reopens one of America’s most notorious cases and asks piercing questions of the parties involved.
The documentary uses various interviews to tell the story of Philadelphia police dishonesty, manipulation, intimidation, and frame-ups. Edginton is accurate and stays out of the spotlight, choosing instead to allow the testimony of individuals on both sides of the case to lay out the fabric of the issue. The use of a narrator helps move things along, but the narration is never invasive or unfair.
Mumia Abu-Jamal, now 54-years-old, was a journalist, Black Panther activist, and cab driver prior to his arrest for the murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. His case has received international attention and supporters have rallied behind him in their persistent quest for justice.
The documentary pieces together various accounts from the night of the murder (December 9, 1981) and uses testimony from the prosecutor in the 1982 trial, Joseph McGill, and his defense counsel, Anthony E. Jackson. Edginton’s film spends time with many of the witnesses, too, and reveals a pattern of police coercion, especially in the case of Veronica Jones and Cynthia White.
As years have passed and Mumia remains in prison, innumerable pieces of evidence have come forward in the case to shed light on what may have actually happened on that night. The 1982 trial is generally seen by supporters to be steeped in police corruption and it’s hard to argue that point after seeing Edginton’s film.