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Witch Hunt (2008)

Unrated | | Documentary, Crime | 2 November 2008 (USA)
The story of several families who have their lives destroyed when their hometown is whipped into a frenzy by allegations of child molestation.

Directors:

Don Hardy (as Don Hardy Jr.), Dana Nachman

Writer:

Dana Nachman
Reviews
1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Jack Cummings Jack Cummings ... Himself - Accused of Child Molestation
Jackie Cummings Jackie Cummings ... Herself - Accused of Child Molestation
Allen Grafton Allen Grafton ... Himself - Accuser
Ed Jagels Ed Jagels ... Himself - Kern County District Attorney (archive footage)
Brenda Kniffen Brenda Kniffen ... Herself - Accused of Child Molestation
Scott Kniffen Scott Kniffen ... Himself - Accused of Child Molestation
Carla Modahl Carla Modahl ... Herself - Daughter of Jeffrey Modahl
Jeffrey Modahl Jeffrey Modahl ... Himself - Accused of Child Molestation
Victor Monge Victor Monge ... Himself - Accuser
Sean Penn ... Himself - Narrator
Marcella Pitts Marcella Pitts ... Herself - Accused of Child Molestation
Rick Pitts Rick Pitts ... Himself - Accused of Child Molestation
Kathleen Ridolfi Kathleen Ridolfi ... Herself - Northern California Innocence Project (as Kathleen 'Cookie' Ridolfi)
Ed Sampley Ed Sampley ... Himself - Accuser
Linda Starr Linda Starr ... Herself - Northern California Innocence Project
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Storyline

Executive Producer Sean Penn presents "Witch Hunt," a gripping indictment of the American justice system told through the lens of one small town. Voters in Bakersfield, California elected a tough on crime district attorney into office for more than 25 years. During his tenure he convicted dozens of innocent working class moms and dads. They went to prison, some for decades, before being exonerated. He remains in office today. This story on a micro level mirrors what the US has experienced over the last eight years. When power is allowed to exist without oversight civil rights are in jeopardy. Written by Dana Nachman

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Some convictions are criminal

Genres:

Documentary | Crime

Certificate:

Unrated

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official site

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

2 November 2008 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

An American Witch Hunt See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

KTF Films See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(original)

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital (Dolby 5.1)| Dolby SR

Color:

Color | Color (HDCAM)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Quotes

[first lines]
title cards: There are more than 2 million people in American prisons today. This film is dedicated to the thousands of them who are actually innocent.
Narrator: [narration] The images of your life, picture them, on your refrigerator, in albums, frames. They capture every stage, change, celebration. Without them, how much do you remember? How much do you rely on these photos to remind you of the journey you've taken in life. Now imagine them gone. This is the first photo John Stoll has of is life. The ...
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User Reviews

 
Witch Hunt
30 March 2015 | by a_baronSee all my reviews

Sean Penn is an accomplished actor, but this documentary in which he is not seen, is unquestionably the most important film of his distinguished career. In the 1980s, a Satanic abuse panic spread throughout the United States, the most notable examples of which were McMartin and Bakersfield. The latter started as allegations of regular child sexual abuse, but grew into lurid tales of Satanism. One man was accused of murdering his son; the fact that the boy was very much alive did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of the witchfinders.

Any claim of sexual abuse that includes women should automatically be suspect; one woman is passable, but a group of them? They just don't do that sort of thing, yet the fantasies persist to this day. These poor people were sentenced to dozens and in some cases hundreds of years in prison after being convicted on hundreds of charges on no evidence worthy of the name.

Jeff Modahl spent 15 years behind bars; he was freed only after a tape came to light of a therapist, (so-called) and law enforcement coaching one of the young non-victims. John Stoll served 20 years, being freed on his 61st birthday. Even more sadly, two of those accused died in prison without clearing their names.

"Witch Hunt" includes much archive footage, interviews with parents, children (some now with children of their own), and some comments from the unrepetent persecutors who claim there was no actual witch hunt.

This documentary is more relevant than ever at the time of review in light of the ongoing persecution and wilful miscarriages of justice being enacted here in the UK.


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