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Friday, September 14, 2018

"Half Truths and Full Lies" (work in progress), 2018: Multichannel Film Installation About Efren Paredes, Jr.

A collaboration film project between nonfiction filmmakers Tirtza Even and Meg McLagan and multimedia producer Elyse Blennerhassett.

The installation is part of the Faculty Projects Exhibition, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Reception: Friday, September 28, 2018 at 6 pm - 9 pm

SAIC Sullivan Galleries
33 S. State, 7th Floor
Chicago, Illinois 60603

Exhibition on view September 14 - October 13

Free and open to the public, Tuesday - Saturday 11 am - 6 pm

"Half Truths and Full Lies" depicts, through documentation and reenactment, the case of Efren Paredes, Jr., a Latinx male from St. Joseph, Michigan, who was arrested at age 15 and sentenced to life without parole in 1989 for a murder he asserts he did not commit.

It is the first iteration of the film that will be available for the public to view the novelty of its story representation. The following is a link to the Facebook event page which contains additional information about the film and photographs of the installation:

The multi-channel film installation takes on a Rashomon-like quality, as divergent accounts of the crime accrue, forming multiple portraits of Efren. These accounts reflect perspectives of a range of individuals, from a police detective to key witnesses from the tight-knit small town community who singled Efren out, as well as those whose lives -- over the past 30 years -- have been affected by the teen's conviction: family members, teachers, and citizens who sat in judgment as jury members.

"Half Truths and Full Lies" tells a story about a story; one constructed by a group of teens who appear to have conspired to set up their peer, and whose narrative played on stereotypical assumptions about racial minorities and upon which the local police and prosecutor relied. This account became the only one the public, and the jury, got to hear.

The installation, however, is also a story about a handful of alternative, untold stories, and at their center -- Efren's story of innocence. The project thus attempts to recuperate conflicting narrative possibilities, and to investigate the nature of truth-telling in both media and the law.

While the film conveys the story about the Efren's case it also intersects with stories about the man he is today and the injustice of sentencing people to die in prison for crimes they were convicted of when they were juveniles. Michigan ranks second in the nation as the state with the highest number of juveniles to receive the sentence.

Efren, who is scheduled to be resentenced in the Berrien County Trial Court during the Spring of 2019, has garnered support for his release from a number of people including a world renowned wrongful convictions expert, a former juror at his trial, current and former employees of the Michigan Department of Corrections, legal scholars, community leaders, human rights groups, clergy, and others across the nation. Information about Efren's accomplishments is available at

Cinematography and editing assistance: Yoni Goldstein
Additional camera: Steve Maing and Gonzalo Escobar

For additional film information contact The Injustice Must End (TIME) Committee to Free Efren Paredes, Jr. at
"Rashomon": The name of a Japanese film produced by Akira Kurosawa in which four witnesses to a crime describe the event in contrasting (and contradictory) ways.