07 Jan NEW CYNTOIA BROWN FILM IS CENTERPIECE OF SOCIAL IMPACT CAMPAIGN BY ODYSSEY IMPACT SPOTLIGHTING NEED FOR JUVENILE JUSTICE REFORM
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Me Facing Life 2: Cyntoia’s Fight For Freedom Documentary By Daniel Birman Productions Slated to Release in 2019
NEW YORK, NY [January 7, 2019] – Cyntoia Brown, the 30-year-old Tennessee woman convicted of murder as a teenager and serving a life sentence—who was granted clemency today by Governor Bill Haslam—is the subject of a new official documentary. Brown is scheduled to be released August 7, 2019, after serving 15 years in prison. ODYSSEY IMPACT™, a leading nonprofit organization that uses the power of documentary film to help inspire social change, is teaming up with Daniel H. Birman Productions, producers of ME FACING LIFE 2: CYNTOIA’S FIGHT FOR FREEDOM (w.t.), the official documentary and multi-platform initiative centering on Brown’s story, which is slated to premiere in 2019. Odyssey Impact announced today it will lead a national impact campaign to help shine a light on the juvenile criminal justice system as part of a collective project designed to enhance social media engagement and elevate awareness about issues explored in the new documentary.
Directed, written and produced by Daniel Birman and produced and edited by Megan Chao, ME FACING LIFE 2: CYNTOIA’S FIGHT FOR FREEDOM is from the original filmmaking team behind ME FACING LIFE: CYNTOIA’S STORY, the 2011 documentary chronicling the story of Cyntoia Brown, who was arrested in 2004 for murdering a 43-year-old man who picked her up for sex. Although only 16 at the time, she was tried as an adult and sentenced to life in prison. The initial film aired on PBS Independent Lens and has since gone viral, sparking community discussions in the U.S. and worldwide.
To accompany the new documentary— ME FACING LIFE 2: CYNTOIA’S FIGHT FOR FREEDOM— Odyssey Impact is leading a national social impact campaign that seeks to illuminate the challenges facing minors caught up in traumatic circumstances similar to Cyntoia’s—who are victims of sex trafficking or cycles of violence and must navigate America’s criminal justice system. The goal of Odyssey’s campaign is to end the practice of trying and sentencing juveniles as adults, which still exists in five states—Georgia, Michigan, Missouri, Texas and Wisconsin—and to push for wider reforms, since all states have transfer laws that allow young offenders to be prosecuted as adults for more serious offenses, regardless of their age.
After release of the first documentary, Brown’s case received worldwide attention. In fall 2018, several renowned personalities came forward on social media to plead for freedom for Cyntoia—including Rihanna, T.I., Kim Kardashian West, LeBron James, Cara Delevingne, and other influencers. More than a half million people signed petitions in support of her release. Tennessee lawmakers and the Governor had recently been reviewing the case.
Odyssey Impact hopes the new film and new national impact campaign will spur further change. If Cyntoia Brown were tried today, she would not receive such a severe sentence. At the time she was convicted, Cyntoia was seen as a prostitute who committed first degree murder. But Tennessee laws are changing in the wake of the first documentary’s release. Today, Cyntoia would be seen as a victim of human sex trafficking. The new law does not impact Cyntoia or other young people previously convicted of similar crimes.
“This is a story that touches many important social themes, from our understanding of child development to the inconsistent manner by which we punish youth. America is a leader of the free world, yet the strictest when it comes to incarcerating our children,” said Daniel Birman, producer, director and writer. “Through Cyntoia’s story, we have a chance to look more closely and with better understanding at the complicated factors involved. By partnering with Odyssey Impact, we can do as much as possible to elevate awareness in ways that lead to real action and change in our country and beyond.”
ME FACING LIFE 2: CYNTOIA’S FIGHT FOR FREEDOM reveals Brown’s dramatic journey from the time of her arrest and through her remarkable transformation during the past 15 years. The film also looks at the larger story—personalizing Cyntoia’s case as an example of the need to reform harsh sentencing laws for juveniles. It compares Tennessee with other key states around the country and explores various points in the process where breakdowns can occur—during interrogation, Miranda rights, transferring juveniles to adult court—and also examines how states stand up to standards set forth by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Birman and Chao and the film team have followed Cyntoia and her evolution since her arrest in 2004. The film shows the changes occurring in Cyntoia and those people directly touched by her, her story, and her progress—including interviews with her family, and a former assistant District Attorney who vehemently denied Cyntoia’s first appeal, but eventually becomes one of her biggest mentors and strongest advocates for criminal justice reform. The film also interviews Cyntoia’s legal team, her professor at the educational program in the Tennessee Prison for Women, and key legislators from both political parties who are using Cyntoia’s story in an attempt to reform harsh sentencing laws for juveniles.
Odyssey Impact™ believes that powerful documentaries with messages of social justice can motivate meaningful social change by raising awareness, changing attitudes and encouraging people of all faiths and good will to engage their communities on important issues in their lives.
“Odyssey Impact sees this film and the remarkable story of this compelling individual’s life story of hardship, courage and growth as a tremendous opportunity to shed light on some of the most significant issues impacting our society today, which we see as completely within our power to change,” said Nick Stuart, President/CEO of Odyssey Impact.
For additional information on the film, visit www.Odyssey-Impact.org. To engage on social media: follow at @OdysseyImpactNY.
About DANIEL H. BIRMAN PRODUCTIONS
Based in Los Angeles, Daniel H. Birman Productions is a media production company specializing in nonfiction and documentary programming. The company’s U.S. content has been shown on such networks as CuriosityStream, PBS, TLC, Discovery Channel, Nat Geo, Science, Nickelodeon, as well as being distributed internationally. Birman Productions is responsible for the award-winning documentaries Me Facing Life: Cyntoia’s Story and Brace for Impact: The Chesley B. Sullenberger Story. www.birmanproductions.com
About ODYSSEY IMPACT™
ODYSSEY IMPACT™ , a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, believes that powerful documentaries with messages of social justice can motivate meaningful social change by raising awareness, changing attitudes and inspiring people of all faiths and good will to engage their communities on issues important in their lives and in society as a whole. The organization is dedicated to strategically building and executing social impact campaigns around documentaries by its affiliated production company, TRANSFORM FILMS INC., via mobilizing faith leaders, individuals and communities around issues such as poverty, mass incarceration, gun violence, intolerance, racial justice, hate crimes, and gender violence. Films such as NEWTOWN; MILWAUKEE 53206; THE RAPE OF RECY TAYLOR , and LESSONS FROM A SCHOOL SHOOTING: NOTES FROM DUNBLANE have garnered critical acclaim at film festivals and have aired on broadcast outlets such as PBS’ Independent Lens, America Reframed, STARZ Channel and Netflix. Recent accolades include the 2018 Peabody Award, the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival’s Best Documentary Short, the 2018 UNAFF Grand Jury Award for Best Short Documentary, and the 2017 Venice International Film Festival Human Rights Award. More info at www.Odyssey-Impact.org.
# # #
Eileen Campion / Roslan & Campion PR
212.966.4600 / [email protected]