Texas death-row doc bares chaplain Carroll Pickett's thoughts after each
All filmmakers aren't created equal, but most documentaries are still only
as good as their subjects. In At the Death House Door, the latest doc from
Hoop Dreams creators Steve James and Peter Gilbert, the Rev. Carroll
Pickett makes for a subject you won't soon forget.
For 15 years Mr. Pickett was the chaplain that accompanied death house
inmates during their final hours in Huntsville, Texas. Was he in favor of
the death penalty? Was he against it? Not even his kids knew. But he did
make audiocassettes after each of the 95 executions he witnessed. And in
At the Death House Door, he slowly but surely bares his soul.
The filmmakers blend Mr. Pickett's story with that of Carlos De Luna,
executed in Huntsville in 1989 for killing a man at a Corpus Christi gas
station. In the film we see Chicago Tribune investigative reporters Steve
Mills and Maurice Possley pursue and present evidence that the state
killed the wrong man. (The Tribune also produced the film.) The reporters'
path leads them to Mr. Pickett, who has been haunted by the De Luna case
ever since he watched the young man die.
At the Death House Door doesn't quite reach the epic intimacy of Hoop
Dreams, or even Mr. James's heartbreaking Stevie. But it's still a quiet
powerhouse that leaves you thinking about the central issues and character
long after the lights have gone up. If you can't catch it at the festival,
it will premiere May 29 at 8 p.m. on IFC.
DETAILS: At the Death House Door screens today at 10:15 p.m. at the
(source: Dallas Morning News)