Living Condition is a transmedia project that tells the stories of three families living with a relative condemned to execution. Each family bears witness to highly politicized events, describing the impact of capital punishment on whole communities, a perspective that is rarely, if ever, heard. Living Condition allows individual family members to tell their story in their own words..
Living Condition aims to open up discussions surrounding the death penalty and offer new perspectives on crime and justice, human rights, costs to society, as well as questions of racial equality and access to opportunities. As each story unfolds the audience learns more about each case and the ways characters struggle to cope, living in proximity to capital punishment. The viewer moves from the most personal family experiences, to learn about the systems that surround us social, economic, moral, political, and judicial. Interactive videos, timelines, tags, and pop up windows bring access to factual information, advocacy sites, relevant rss feeds, histories, and facts about the death penalty. As viewers go deeper into the site, they hear from secondary characters, policy makers, and other contributors. Viewers also contribute their own content by adding text, tags and potential animation of their own. Questions arise and invite comment, such as can a democratic society support killing its own people? What is the “Right to Life?” What role does race and location play in judicial punishment?
Living Condition provides new ways to understand the complexities of capital execution, as well as larger issues that surround this subject, to engage with both the personal, and the political implications of capital punishment.
The 30-minute animated film Last Day of Freedom, a part of Living Condition, is an interactive online documentary project that combines animated video testimonies and humanities scholarship. These two elements may be viewed in combination or seen independently.
The animated film Last Day of Freedom, narrated by Bill Babbitt, an elderly African American, tells the story of his moral dilemma when he realizes his brother Manny, a Vietnam veteran, has committed a crime, should he call the police? Compelled by his conscience and hoping against hope that Manny would get the treatment he desperately needs, Bill turns in his brother. Manny was executed on his 50th birthday, and Bill lives with the double burden of his brother’s crime and his execution. The film premiered at Full Frame Documentary Film Festival this year, where it won Best Short Documentary (an Oscar qualifying category) and the Film Maker’s Award from The Center for Documentary Studies, Duke University, SF Doc Audience Award and (In) Justice Film Fest's Justice for All Award. KQED Northern California public television will broadcast the film in their 2016-17 season.
The interactive online documentary project broadens the documentary’s portrait lens to include four families’ stories, offering multiple points of entry through evocative animated visuals (in the style of Last Day of Freedom), concentric layers of information, scholarly analysis and additional perspectives from victims’ families, wardens and exonerees.