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Pull Focus Interview with Dawn Porter

Dawn Porter

As part of the 2013 Human Rights Film Series, filmmaker Dawn Porter recently visited the Center to share the stories behind her latest documentary project "Gideon's Army."

"Gideon's Army," which premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, follows the personal life of three young public defenders working in the Deep South, representing the poorest Americans and fighting with a broken criminal justice system. The film is distributed by HBO Documentary Films and aired this past summer.

Gideon's Army Travis with client

Graduated from Georgetown University Law Center, Dawn Porter worked as a practicing attorney at Baker & Hostetler and ABC Television Networks before starting her television and film career. The idea of making a film about public defenders emerged In 2009, when Dawn was invited by public defender trainer Jonathan Rapping to film his new class in Alabama. During our Pull Focus interview, Dawn recounted the making of "Gideon's Army," her incredible journey with the three main characters, and her vision for the film’s social impact. 

This year happens to be the 50th anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright (the landmark supreme court rulling that requries state courts to provide all criminal defendants with legal representation even when they cannot affort it), and for that "Gideon's Army" has recieved a lot of news-press.  "Seeing someone’s experience really enriches your understanding, " Dawn says, "and having the film really did contribute to the public discourse."

Watch her full here and check out the film’s website for more information.

You can revisit interviews from our previous Pull Focus series here. All of the Center's video production works are available on our YouTube Channel.