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Fourteen Days In May Documentary Review Essay

  • “Mother!” and “Battle of the Sexes”

    Darren Aronofsky’s thriller, starring Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem, and a chronicle of tennis and sexism, with Steve Carell and Emma Stone.

    By Anthony Lane

  • Frederick Wiseman’s “Ex Libris”

    The latest work from the great documentary filmmaker examines the New York Public Library as it reconfigures itself for the digital age.

    By Anthony Lane

  • “The Unknown Girl” and “The Limehouse Golem”

    A gritty murder mystery from the Dardenne brothers and Juan Carlos Medina’s thriller set in Victorian London.

    By Anthony Lane

  • “Logan Lucky” and “Marjorie Prime”

    Steven Soderbergh’s redneck heist movie, starring Channing Tatum and Adam Driver, and Michael Almereyda’s sci-fi meditation on bereavement.

    By Anthony Lane

  • “Good Time” and “Nocturama”

    The Safdie brothers’ heist movie, starring Robert Pattinson, and a terrorism fantasy by Bertrand Bonello.

    By Anthony Lane

  • “Detroit” and “Whose Streets?”

    Kathryn Bigelow’s latest film, and a documentary about Ferguson, Missouri, after the shooting of Michael Brown.

    By Anthony Lane

  • Christopher Nolan’s Wartime Epic

    “Dunkirk” is a harrowing look at a barely averted British catastrophe.

    By Anthony Lane

  • “War for the Planet of the Apes” and “Lady Macbeth”

    Matt Reeves’s extension of the primate franchise, starring Andy Serkis and Woody Harrelson, and William Oldroyd’s ice-cold début about a Victorian murderess.

    By Anthony Lane

  • “A Ghost Story” and “Okja”

    A touching twist on the haunted-house genre, starring Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara, and Bong Joon-ho’s fantasy about a genetically modified superpig.

    By Anthony Lane

  • “Baby Driver” and “My Journey Through French Cinema”

    Edgar Wright’s car-chase extravaganza, starring Kevin Spacey and Ansel Elgort, and Bertrand Tavernier’s cornucopian survey of great French moviemaking.

    By Anthony Lane

Fourteen Days in May is a documentary directed by Paul Hamann. The program recounts the final days before the execution of Edward Earl Johnson, an American prisoner convicted of rape and murder. Johnson protested his innocence and claimed that his confession had been made under duress. He was executed in Mississippi's gas chamber on May 20, 1987.

The documentary crew, given access to the prison warden, guards and chaplain and to Johnson and his family, filmed the last days of Johnson's life in detail. The documentary argues against the death penalty and maintains that capital punishment is disproportionately applied to African-Americans convicted of crimes against whites. The program features attorney Clive Stafford Smith, a noted advocate against capital punishment.

Fourteen Days in May won a British Film Institute Grierson Award and a top prize at the Festival dei Populi. It has been shown in many countries but has only appeared in an abbreviated form in the United States, on HBO. Hamann disowned this shortened version.

It was in direct response to this documentary that the Lifelines organization was set up, to organize pen pals for death row prisoners.

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