It would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to meet any of the men and women who have been exonerated from death row in the United States and not come away from the encounter unalterably changed. That’s what happened to four Spanish magazine journalists who were so moved by the stories they heard, they decided, with no film experience, to make a documentary about them.
It took them six years, and six trips to the United States, but the result is “Surviving Death Row,” the story of Ron Keine, Shujaa Graham, Greg Wilhoit (who died in 2014), and Albert Burrell, and their efforts to end the death penalty.
The four journalists, Alvaro Corcuera, Guillermo Abril, Olmo Figueredo, and Bernabé Rico, describe the film as ”the story of four friends who, after enduring years of mental suffering and isolation from society, became activists and are campaigning to end the death penalty. . . Besides being friends, they were ‘pain mates,’ as we called them: people who shared the experience of surviving a miserable place. Only after they left prison had they realized that there were others like them, who understood what they had gone through. When they met, they did not have to justify anything. Nobody judged them or asked them questions. They just laughed and enjoyed their freedom together.”
“Surviving Death Row” is airing on Aljazeera TV through March 13.