Saturday, June 21, 2014

Film examines ‘wrongful’ conviction of (black) Bushwick native David McCallum

Documentary filmmakers need talent and timing to change the world — Ray Klonsky had both.

His doc "David & Me" about the wrongful conviction of Brooklynite David McCallum is a classic tale of injustice — but it would have been just another righteous cry in the wilderness without the re-examination of dozens of similarly sketchy convictions from the dark days of Brooklyn’s criminal "justice" system in the 1980s and ’90s.

The film was just selected for the Manhattan Film Festival, where it will screen Friday. Klonsky is gratified for himself and his friend.

"He didn’t seem like a guy who had to spend time in prison," said Klonsky, who was so convinced of McCallum’s innocence that he took on two side jobs to produce the film.

The Bushwick native McCallum was just 16 when cops allegedly beat a confession out of him for a murder.

Years later, McCallum reached out to Klonsky, beginning a correspondence — and a crusade as Klonsky, 29, and his fellow filmmakers spent years re-examining the case and acquiring evidence to exonerate McCallum, such as DNA from cigarette butts from the crime scene that did not match McCallum.

McCallum’s is now one of more than 90 murder cases that are being re-examined by Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson after irregularities were found in many cases of that era. Klonsky thinks his movie "planted the seed." (Thompson declined to comment on the ongoing re-examination.)

"I did this as David’s friend," Klonsky said. "I just want people to know the person I know."

But he won’t consider his work done until McCallum is a free man.

"We appreciate the DA agreeing to look at the case, but we’re not going to accept a lackadaisical timeline," Klonsky said. "Every day David is in jail is another wasted day of his life."

Original report here




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