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America Is Stuck With the Death Penalty for (At Least) a Generation

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With Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement, the national fight to abolish capital punishment will have to go local.
When the Supreme Court revived capital punishment in 1976, just four years after de facto abolishing it, the justices effectively took ownership of the American death penalty and all its outcomes. They have spent the decades since then setting its legal and constitutional parameters, supervising its general implementation, sanctioning its use in specific cases, and brushing aside concerns about its many flaws.
That unusual role in the American legal system is about to change. With Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the court this summer, the Supreme Court will lose a heterodox jurist whose willingness to cross ideological divides made him the deciding factor in many legal battles. In cases involving the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, his judgment often meant the difference between life and death for hundreds of death-row pr…

"The Iron Red Door", freely adapted from Hugo's novel The Last Day of a Condemned Man

The Iron Red Door is the passage through which the bodies of executed prisoners get out of Thailand's infamous prison “Bang Kwang.”

Every time this door opens one more human being has been killed. It doesn't matter if he was innocent or guilty; it doesn’t matter if he was a poor western immigrant doing art in an Asian metropolis. It only matters that they kill someone.

The Red Iron Door is freely adapted from Victor Hugo's novel The Last Day of a Condemned Man, one of the world's most powerful manifest against the death penalty, and incorporates excerpts from Pier Paolo Pasolini's work. The film is shot in Thailand and is about the death penalty in Asia.

Synopsis

It is the day before the execution of Pietro, an Italian artist accused of murdering Rak, a mysterious Thai woman.

Pietro and his wife Nee, who are trying to survive in Bangkok producing artistic theater plays, met Rak during one of their shows.

Rak discovered the beauty of stage-acting and decided to leave her bright future and family to become an actress. But her happy free life abruptly came to an end. During a performance on a boat, the Thai girl vanished mysteriously.

Pietro, an easy target for the prosecution, is sentenced to death. 

Roland, an Interpol officer vaguely acquainted with Pietro, visits the condemned on death row shortly before his execution. Roland has doubts about Pietro's guilt and decides to spend the last 24 hours with Pietro, to find out the truth. 

The whole story becomes a long poetic narration between the present grayness of the cell and the colorful flashbacks of the past, a long travel through modernity and ancient times, fights for power, fights for freedom, death, theater and the hazards of a fascinating yet dangerous city.

The backdrop is Bangkok, a dazzling city, a city made sick by superficiality and capitalism, a city, full of contradictions, in a climate of civil war.

The Iron Red Door
  • Executive Producer: Ulf Pilblad and Patchanee Poonthong
  • Director: Maurizio Mistretta
  • Cast: Maurizio Mistretta, Ulf Pilblad and Patchanee Poonthong
  • Country of shooting: Thailand
  • Production date: September 2015
  • Intent to release: September 2016
  • Duration: 90 -100 minutes

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