(NORTH ADAMS, Mass.) – MASS MoCA’s Thursday night documentary film series kicks off with Crime After Crime, an Official Selection at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, on January 26, 2012, at 8 p.m., as part of the Cinema Lounge series in Club B-10. The film follows the case of Deborah Peagle, incarcerated for over 26 years, and two young attorneys who chose to challenge her wrongful imprisonment.
At age 15, Peagle met Oliver Wilson, a seemingly generous and respectable young man. It soon became clear that he was ill-intentioned when he forced Peagle into prostitution and physically and psychologically abused her. She made multiple attempts to escape but would always be violently dragged back by Wilson. After years of his exploitation and subsequent death threats, she sought protection from men who had helped her in the past. These men went after Wilson, ultimately killing him.
Peagle was tried for conspiracy and first-degree murder, yet the fact that she suffered years of abuse and violence under Wilson was never taken into consideration. Despite a lack of evidence, the District Attorney threatened to ask for the death penalty for her if she did not plead guilty. When Peagle confessed, she was sent to prison for 25 years to life.
Crime After Crime begins after she has been behind bars for almost two decades. Despite her harrowing past, Peagle is a spirited, optimistic leader in the prison, with outstanding behavior as an inmate. She inspires the other inmates to prevail, as well as the two young lawyers, who are not trained in murder cases, to fight for her justice. Their investigation uncovers new witnesses and evidence of perjury during her initial trial. These discoveries, along with demonstrations for Peagle’s release, bring her case back to public attention and help start a movement for abused and wrongfully imprisoned individuals. However, as the attorneys fight for Peagle’s freedom, it once again comes down to life or death.
Directed by Yoav Potash, who is well-known for tackling difficult social issues through documentary, Crime After Crime has become a much talked-about film advocating social justice. The film has received numerous honors, including Winner of the Grand Performances Documentary at the Los Angeles Film Festival, Audience Choice Award at the San Francisco International Film Festival and the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, and Justice Matters Jury Prize at the Washington, DC, International Film Festival. The Hollywood Reporter described the film as “a tremendously moving story, strong in social commitment and deftly woven out of years of footage.”
Crime After Crime screens on Thursday, January 26, at 8 in MASS MoCA’s Club B-10 as part of the Cinema Lounge series. Drinks from the MASS MoCA bar, as well as snacks from Lickety Split, are available before and during the film. Tickets for the film are $9 for adults and $5 for students. Tickets are available through the MASS MoCA Box Office located off Marshall Street in North Adams, open 11 – 5 every day but Tuesday. Tickets can also be charged by phone by calling 413.662.2111 during Box Office hours or purchased online at www.massmoca.org.
MASS MoCA, the largest center for contemporary visual and performing arts in the United States, is located off Marshall Street in North Adams on a 13-acre campus of renovated 19th-century factory buildings. MASS MoCA is an independent 501c(3) whose operations and programming are funded through admissions and commercial lease revenue, corporate and foundation grants, and individual philanthropy. Except for an initial construction grant from the Commonwealth, and competitive program and operations grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Massachusetts Cultural Council, MASS MoCA is privately funded: 90% of annual operating revenues are from earned revenues, membership support, and private gifts and grants.