Middle 40-60% of all time (see others with this rank)

Festival Year

2004 (click here to see all competition films from this year)


Documentary Competition

Non-Cast Credits

Katy Chevigny, Kirsten Johnson, Katy Chevigny, Dallas Brennan, Kirsten Johnson, Kate Hirson, Carol Dysinger, Angela Tucker


On the eve of his departure from office, George Ryon, longtime conservative Republican governor of Illinois and supporter of the death penalty, surprised the nation by commuting the sentences of 142 prisoners on Death Row to Life imprisonment. Directors Katy Chevigny and Kirsten Johnson bring us directly into the debate and the legal process Ryan set in motion when a group of Northwestern University journalism students uncovered evidence exonerating the doomed Anthony Porter, undermining the credibility of the state's entire capital justice system.

Deadline is human drama in its most distilled form. In the wake of DNA evidence and new testimony proving the innocence of 13 Illinois Death Row inmates, Ryan ordered clemency hearings for every prisoner awaiting execution. Chevigny andJohnson deliver it allófrom the well-reasoned legal debates to the heart-wrenching testimony of family members of the victims as well as the condemned. Using astounding access to the hearings, prisoners on Death Row, and Governor Ryan, they deliver a measured sense of justice for all their subiects and astutely contextualize the debate with historical material.

Deadline contributes reason and passion to the ongoing debate about whether civilized nations should employ the ultimate punishment and how justly it is administered.


Diane Weyermann (see other films reviewed by the same reviewer)

Film Takes Pace.