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Toronto True Crime Film Festival 2019: “Katie and The Black Robin Hood” (2018) ★★★


When it comes to deciding who can be sent to jail and for how long, unfortunately, nobody can decide it except for the justice system. However, it indeed occurs in real life when a less dangerous criminal serving time in prison for a minor offense shares the exact same punishment as one who is found to be more dangerous.

“Katie and The Black Robin Hood” is one of those examples where the prison system cries for reforms but nothing seems to happen. Katie is a public defender in New Orleans whose job is perhaps one of the most interesting, yet, extremely challenging – she helps her clients receive more logical sentencing at trial by presenting the story of a man who never had a chance in life to prove himself, other than the way he had no choice to do – eventually making him end up in prison.

As we come to know about his family tree, how he lost his parents and the crime that was always part of his family, he literally had to inherit. As per his confession, he robbed 10 banks but the money he stole was given away to poor people. But whether he had good intentions or not, in the face of the law, he will always be treated as a criminal even though we may disagree with that in a way. However, the beauty of this short documentary is not to blame our protagonist Christopher Simms for traveling to 5 States with the intention of going back in prison, or why he decided to rob the banks in the first place.

The film clearly specifies a few facts that are utterly important – the prison is not a place for any man or woman, but that place is sometimes a refuge for those who do not know how to get an education nor enjoy the freedom they have. As I try to avoid giving away too many details of this short film, I would love to encourage every reader to give it a chance and look at one person from an angle both the juror and the judge overlooked. By doing that it does not mean we will help him reduce his sentence as it’s up to Katie and her way of representing his case. The main lesson of Mr. Simms’ story is that being locked up does not mean the end of the world, even though it might be the case for many others but the younger generation deserves to have a second chance. They need the support they seek. The sad part is, sometimes the place they look for that internal happiness is the wrong one, which unfortunately, is the triggering point to have their life changed drastically… and not in a good way.

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