Exclusive: Belafonte, Sherrills board Matthew Cooke doc

Singer Harry Belafonte (pictured, right), activist Aqeela Sherrills and exoneree Jeffrey Deskovic are boarding director Matthew Cooke's (left) forthcoming doc The Survivor's Guide to Prison.
February 27, 2015

Singer Harry Belafonte (pictured, right), activist Aqeela Sherrills and exoneree Jeff Deskovic are boarding How to Make Money Selling Drugs director Matthew Cooke’s (left) forthcoming doc, The Survivor’s Guide to Prison.

Exec produced by actors Susan Sarandon and Adrian Grenier as well as Mike de la Rocha and Steve DeVore, the film is part of a series of documentaries that will focus on issues within the U.S. criminal justice and corrections system. In addition to directing How to Make Money Selling Drugs, Cooke previously produced the docs Teenage Paparazzo and Deliver Us from Evil.

The Survivor’s Guide to Prison - which Cooke tells realscreen will be completed “within a matter of months” – centers on the case of Bruce Lisker, who was wrongfully convicted of murdering his mother and served 26 years in prison before being exonerated in 2009.

The 87-year-old Belafonte – who was awarded the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the sixth annual Governors Awards on Sunday (February 22) – is to figure in the doc speaking on racial injustice in the U.S. criminal justice system.

Also boarding the film’s roster of interviewees is activist and conflict resolution expert Aqeela Sherrills, who is known for brokering a truce between LA’s Crips and Bloods gangs.

Finally, set to speak on prosecutorial misconduct and false confessions is Jeff Deskovic, who was wrongfully convicted of raping and murdering a high school classmate and was imprisoned for 16 years before being exonerated and then winning a US$41.65 million verdict against Putnam County, New York, for the conviction.

Details on where the doc will be broadcast have yet to be released.

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news editor at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joined the RS team in 2015 with experience in journalism following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and with communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.