‘Defender’ Wins Best Documentary at Film Fest

San Francisco—A film highlighting two cases in the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office received the ‘Best Documentary’ award at the Independent Television Festival Sunday.

Defender, created by San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi and Jim Choi, focuses on Adachi and his team during the racially-charged trial of Michael Smith, a 22-year-old African American man.  Smith was charged with nine counts of resisting arrest after being pulled off a BART train with his girlfriend and wrestled to the ground by officers. The incident, which was caught on police body cameras and commuters’ cell phones, occurred after a white passenger falsely reported Smith had a gun.

The 70-minute Defender also focuses on the case of a San Francisco father being held in an immigration detention facility while the Public Defender’s fledgling immigration unit fights for his release.

ITV Fest, which was held Oct. 11-15 in Manchester, Vermont, focuses on episodic series created by independent filmmakers. The festival represents a worldwide community of television creators, executives, agents and fans responsible for discovering the best new television programs created on independent budgets.

Adachi said he was honored by the award.

“I made Defender because I wanted to show the public the critical role public defenders play in fighting for racial and social justice in America,” he said. “I’m grateful to have done our story justice.”

A free screening of Defender will be held Saturday, Oct. 21 at 1 p.m. in the Koret Auditorium in San Francisco Main Library. A Q&A will follow with Adachi, Professor James Lance Taylor of the USF African American Studies Program at the University of San Francisco, and Troy Williams, editor of the San Francisco Bay View.

For more information on Defender, go to defenderfilm.com