This documentary by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky details the murder trial of Delbert Ward. Delbert's of a family of 4 brothers (the other 3 being Roscoe, Lyman and William - Bill, for ...
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This documentary by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky details the murder trial of Delbert Ward. Delbert's of a family of 4 brothers (the other 3 being Roscoe, Lyman and William - Bill, for short), working as semi-literate farmers, and living together in isolation in a ramshackle shack, until William's death. The subsequent police investigation and medical examiner's autopsy suggested Bill may not have died from natural causes, and Delbert was arrested on charges of second-degree murder. Under questioning by police, Delbert appears to have waived his rights and signed a confession, but, it seems he might not have been competent, and was coerced into doing so. The film explores possible motives for the crime, from mercy-killing (Bill was ill at the time), to progressively more outré hypotheses. It also shows how residents of the rural community of Munnsville, NY rallied to the support of one of their own (residents previously considered the Wards as social outcasts), against what they ...Written by
Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>
Picked by Entertainment Weekly magazine as one of the "50 Greatest Independent Films" in a special supplement devoted to independent films that was only distributed to subscribers in October 1997. See more »
This well made documentary involving the murder trial of an illiterate farmer in upstate New York is about as well made as they come. Delbert Ward, a simple farmer who could hardly read, is accused of killing his brother, Bill, in his sleep. Motives for the crime ranged from 'mercy killing' (his brother was sick at the time) to even the suggestion of a sex crime (the brothers shared the same bed all their lives and never had girlfriends). Delbert signed a confession but claims the police made him sign and agree to certain things that weren't true just so he can go home. When the charges were made the whole town of Munnsville, NY, came to Delberts side to defend him and even got money together to release him on bail. This film is an interesting look into the lives of simple people being confronted with 'big city' police and attorney tactics. Even after winning some awards from big film festivals no one bought the film so the filmmakers self-distributed the movie themselves, taking it from theater to theater. It is now one of the most successful self-distributed films of all time. It now has distribution and is well praised. Good Stuff!
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