IFC’s At the Death House Door documentary examines death penalty via death row chaplain

Tonight, IFC debuts At the Death House Door, a documentary that explores the death penalty in Texas via a pastor who served as a death row chaplain for 15 years. It debuts at 9 p.m. ET and repeats this weekend and next week. For those without access to IFC, the network has made the film available for download.

The film follows “Pastor Carroll Pickett, who served 15 years as the death house chaplain to the infamous ‘Walls’ prison unit in Huntsville” and “presided over 95 executions, including the world’s first lethal injection,” according to the network. He “had no reservations about presiding over executions, until that fateful day when his path crossed with that of a Hispanic man named Carlos de Luna, unjustly accused of homicide,” and “Pickett tape recorded much of his last day with de Luna. Listening to it, he became unshakably convinced of the man’s innocence, and used his inner conviction as an impetus to team up with crime reporters from the Chicago Tribune and delve into the facts surrounding De Luna’s highly questionable arraignment.”

It’s directed and filmed, respectively, by Steve James and Peter Gilbert, who produced the incredible documentary Hoop Dreams. Gilbert told the New York Times, “It’s the kind of film we gravitate to, letting one person’s story tell you about a much bigger issue.”

IFC has eight clips on its site, including the trailer:

At the Death House Door [IFC]
His Life With the Deaths That the State Carried Out [New York Times]

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.