12.13.13 – New York Times- “Typical Men With Lives That Aren’t”
“’An Unreal Dream: The Michael Morton Story,’ tells the stunning, infuriating tale of Mr. Morton, a Texas man who was imprisoned for almost 25 years for a crime he didn’t commit, yet came out, apparently at peace with his fate and embracing forgiveness for the incompetent prosecutors who victimized him… Al Reinert, the film’s director, tells the tale beautifully, via sparse interviews with Mr. Morton, his lawyers, his fellow inmates and, most movingly, jurors who imposed the wrongful verdict and the young son whose childhood Mr. Morton missed. The film (first shown on CNN on Dec. 5; it’s being rebroadcast on Saturday night) isn’t didactic; it lets you build to outrage on your own. And then it invites you to compare that reaction with the response of Mr. Morton, who was released in 2011.”
12.4.13 – Miami Herald review
There are many words that can be used in connection with An Unreal Dream: The Michael Morton Story — infuriating, sickening, dismally depressing — but “pleasurable” is hard to apply to a documentary that recounts such a grotesque miscarriage of justice. Michael Morton, a 32-year-old Texas grocery-store manager, was convicted in 1986 of beating his wife Christine to death in their bed. There were no witnesses and scant evidence of any kind, but a politically ambitious prosecutor pressed hard. And jurors — a couple of whom bravely agreed to be interviewed for An Unreal Dream —said he just didn’t seem very sad, which was enough for them. His conviction not only sent Morton to prison for life but cost him his 3-year-old son Eric, who as he grew older, stopped visiting. “It wouldn’t have made sense to love him if he had killed my mother,” Eric explains. Nearly two decades later, when attorneys learned that cops had withheld evidence that could have cleared Michael — including an eyewitness account of the murder — the prosecutor who sent him to jail launched a scorched-earth campaign to keep him there that succeeded for another six long years. DNA tests on a bloody bandana found near the crime scene finally proved the guilt of someone else, and Morton was released. The film ends with a clip of his testimony at a legal hearing to bring charges against the prosecutor who used him as a career scalp, urging the court to “be gentle.”
I learned a number of things from An Unreal Dream: the vulnerability of the criminal justice system when police and prosecutors lie; the fickleness of jurors; and, most indelibly, that Michael Morton is a kinder human being than I could ever be in my wildest dreams.
11.11.13 – Huffington Post- “An Unreal Dream: Justice and Reform Win Over Corruption”
“a powerful story of pain, injustice, redemption, and reconciliation; it will be broadcast by CNN throughout the month of December… I highly recommend it.”
10.30.13 – Houston Chronicle – “Documentary Relives Innocent Man’s Hell”
“The powerful thing about Michael Morton’s story has always been how easy it is to put ourselves in his shoes, and how horrifying that would be…
[“An Unreal Dream”] makes very real an innocent man’s nightmare through a cruel and broken justice system that stole his freedom, his relationship with his son and, nearly, his spirit.”
6.13.13 – PopMatters — “HRW Film Festival 2013: ‘An Unreal Dream’ & ’99%’”
“What is most frightening about the Morton case, as detailed in An Unreal Dream, is how much effort and time it took a squad of highly motivated, expert lawyers to claw Morton out of prison, even after the truth became widely apparent. If a respected, responsible citizen like Morton can be thrown in prison for decades based on such a feeble case, the film asks, who among the rest of us can consider ourselves safe?”
6.14.13 – Indiewire — “How the Human Rights Watch Film Festival Puts Activist Cinema In Context”
3.18.13 – Variety — “Film Review: ‘An Unreal Dream: The Michael Morton Story’”
“Documentarian Al Reinert effectively emphasizes understatement in “An Unreal Dream: The Michael Morton Story,” recounting an outrageous miscarriage of justice without a trace of manufactured melodrama or visual hyperbole. Indeed, the pic’s rivetingly straightforward style of storytelling is a perfect match for its subject, a soft-spoken Texas man who comes across in on camera interviews as remarkably composed and equanimous for someone who spent a quarter-century behind bars after being wrongly convicted of murder.…The details of Morton’s wrongful conviction and incarceration are vividly reported with a subdued simplicity that serves to only increase the pic’s capacity to upset, if not enrage.
…An inspiring tale of spiritual uplift, sympathetically detailing how religious faith gave Morton the strength to endure, and the mercy to forgive.
…This fine SXSW Documentary Spotlight audience award-winner makes the nightmare quite real.”
3.15.13 – AP & Huffington Post – “‘Unreal Dream’ lays bare how wrongfully convicted Texan lost everything but his innocence”
3.07.13 – Austin American-Statesman – “Michael Morton Documentary is a Reflection of Grace”
“Morton’s spirit of ‘letting go’ doesn’t just carry this extraordinary film. It is the living spirit of the film.
…’An Unreal Dream’ is the quietest movie you’ll ever see about murder and the miscarriage of justice. In an age when films tend to jostle and jolt their audiences, “An Unreal Dream” dwells in a realm of simplicity and understatement. It never raises its voice, never rushes through details. In tone, the film honors the essence of Michael Morton by reflecting the dignity of Michael Morton.”