2006, 97 Minutes
In 1998, the state of Pennsylvania launched a pioneering mediation program in which victims of violent crimes or their family members could meet face-to-face with the perpetrators of their crimes. The program provides an opportunity for survivors to express long-brewing emotions and get answers to questions that have haunted them. It also allows perpetrators to express remorse and attempt to make amends after years of reflection.
Beyond Conviction follows three pairs of survivors and perpetrators as they go through this emotionally intense program. This powerful documentary provides a rare glimpse into the lingering pain, questions and regrets for both sides and reveals the bold and difficult path to redemption and reconciliation.
These stories are part of a revolutionary new approach to criminal justice called Restorative Justice which focuses on the human-versus-legal consequences of crime. Pennsylvania is one of only a handful of states that offers Victim-Offender Mediation as part of its regular criminal justice process and is also one of the few to work with violent crime cases. Over a five year period, filmmaker Rachel Libert had complete access to the program, and captured the stories from the beginning - when the survivors first request to meet with the perpetrators, to the meeting itself, and finally to the after-effects of the year-long process on both the survivors and the perpetrators. This access allows a tremendous sense of immediacy and the raw emotion displayed is riveting. The pain of each survivor (a woman who was raped, the mother of a murdered son, the daughter of a murdered mother) is matched by the guilt and remorse of the perpetrators. Loaded questions like "How could you kill someone you love?", "Why me?" and "What were her last words?" lead to gut-wrenching confessions and inconceivable forgiveness.
Beyond Conviction offers an eye-opening look into a process that could have far-reaching repercussions for the ways we approach crime, criminal justice and conflict resolution.
Subjects & Collections
Festivals & Awards* Featured on “The Oprah Winfrey show,” November 8, 2006
* Featured on “Weekend TODAY,” December 3, 2006
* PASS Award, The National Council on Crime and Delinquency, 2007
* World Premiere, Los Angeles Film Festival, 2006
* Audience Award for Best Documentary, Woodstock Film Festival, 2006
* Official Selection, Reel Women International Film Festival, 2007
* Official Selection, Leeds International Film Festival, 2006
* Official Selection, Viennale, Vienna, Austria, 2006
Reviews“A powerful documentary! This thought-provoking, intimate film is an unforgettable look at remorse, emotional release, and forgiveness. A discussion prompter.” - Booklist
“Those who do view [Beyond Conviction] will see a rare sight for such films-raw emotional terror on the part of a perpetrator and, rarer still, two principals enclosed in their joint nightmare, wholly oblivious of the cameras” – The Wall Street Journal
“Filmmaker Rachel Libert captures spiraling histories of violence with clarity. In highlighting the parallel struggles of both parties, this is more than a televised mediation—it’s a humanizing portrait of life after death.... Beyond Conviction doesn’t promote eye-for-an-eye retribution, or even turning the other cheek. Instead it documents a double-sided healing process, and turns the notion of justice on its head.” – Philadelphia Weekly
“The film’s power stems from its subtle supposition that a crime’s emotional repercussions are ultimately more damaging than the crime itself. Years after the fact, these individuals remain hostages to their past, hoping to find comfort, ironically in the one person who can relate." – LA Weekly
“Beyond Conviction is highly recommended to academic libraries supporting criminal justice programs or training programs supporting rehabilitation or victim advocacy.” - Educational Media Reviews Online
“For anyone who’s ever said ‘just give me five minutes alone with ‘em’ comes this documentary on victims given an entire day to confront attackers.” – Entertainment Weekly
“Must-See Cinema: The Los Angeles Film Festival has a number of real gems on offer – Beyond Conviction…explores attempts at reconciliation and the legacy of violence...” – Hollywood Reporter
“Addressing the process of healing, the film focuses on the intense face-to-face meetings as victims and perpetrators work through forgiveness and understanding in the hope of gaining closure. Recommended.” – LA Times
“...records remarkable human moments and touches raw nerves.... Beyond Conviction makes the case that reconciliation can be reached in even the gravest of cases.” – Variety