Price: $95.00

    Code: 2348

    Directed by Steve James and Peter Gilbert
    2008, 94 Minutes
    Purchase: $95

    Named one of the Ten Best DVDs of 2009 by Library Journal

    An impassioned exploration of the legal and ethical issues surrounding capital punishment, At the Death House Door looks at the death penalty through the eyes of Pastor Carroll Pickett, who served as the first death house chaplain at the infamous "Walls" prison unit in Huntsville, Texas.

    From 1982 until 1995, Pickett ministered to 95 men who were executed, including the very first lethal injection done anywhere in the world. "Your job," the warden told Pickett before the first execution, "is to talk to the inmate, comfort him, and win his trust and seduce his emotions so he won't fight on the gurney at midnight." After each of the 95 executions, Pickett recorded an audiotape account of that fateful day.

    No inmate's execution would haunt Pickett more than that of Carlos De Luna, a young man who claimed to be innocent of the murder of a convenience store clerk. In 1989, during the final hours of his life, 27 year-old De Luna came to trust Pickett so much he called him "daddy." 17 years later, two Chicago Tribune reporters turn up evidence that strongly suggests De Luna was innocent. The film tracks their investigation and the impact Carlos continues to have not just on Pickett, but on Carlos' sister and a television reporter who had befriended the young man on death row.

    At the Death House Door is a film about the failures of the criminal justice system; about one man's spiritual and moral journey; and how this very final act of punishment does not bring closure. As often as not, it just brings more suffering.

    At the Death House Door marks the first time the filmmaking team of Steve James and Peter Gilbert have produced and directed a film together. They began their filmmaking partnership on the landmark Kartemquin documentary, Hoop Dreams, on which James was producer and director and Gilbert served as producer and director of photography.

    Subjects & Collections

    Festivals & Awards

    * Winner, Inspiration Award, Full Frame Film Festival, 2008
    * Winner, Best Documentary, Atlanta Film Festival, 2008
    * Finalist for Human Rights Award, Amsterdam Documentary Film Festival, 2008
    * Winner, Best Documentary, DOC New Zealand Film Festival, 2009
    * Official Selection, South by Southwest Film Festival, 2008
    * Official Selection, Hot Docs Film Festival, 2008


    “A powerful documentary. In extensive interviews, Pickett shares heartbreaking stories of executions, admitting his views on the death penalty gradually changed throughout the years. His strength and compassion are humbling. A discussion prompter.” - Booklist

    “A thoughtful examination of the ethics of the death penalty… It is highly recommended for criminal justice, ethics, journalism, religious studies, social issues, and sociology curricular support. It will catalyze and enhance any discussion of capital punishment, pro or con.” - Educational Media Reviews Online

    “A genuinely moving film on a controversial subject, this is recommended.” - Video Librarian

    “An impassioned portrait of a quest for truth.” - Chicago Tribune

    “A riveting character study. Impressive and at times deeply poignant.” - New York Sun

    “A quiet powerhouse... The Rev. Carroll Pickett makes for a subject you won't soon forget.” - Dallas Morning News

    “A-. There is much to be gained from weighing Pickett's moral quandary.” - Entertainment Weekly

    “Pickett's courageously naked honesty about his experiences make At the Death House Door indelible viewing." - LA Daily News

    “A vitally important film.” - Ain't It Cool News

    “May fill you with righteous anger or keep you up nights in despair.” - Andrew O'Hehir,