• Directors Statement:
Last Day of Freedom began when Nomi came home with stories from her (then) day job working as a media specialist for a non-profit doing mitigation work for trials on capital cases. She described families struggling to manage feelings of shock, shame and fear after their loved ones were accused of a capital crime. Innocent family members trying to see the truth and understand what went wrong. We asked those families to tell their stories, to describe perspectives that are rarely, if ever heard.
We imagined back then almost four years ago that we would make a video installation exploring multiple families’ experiences, for exhibition in museums and galleries as we had done before. Then we met Bill, hearing his story we suddenly knew we had to make a linear documentary, to tell his complex and painful story of war veterans, PTSD, racism, the failures in the American criminal injustice system, family bonds and the death penalty.
Initially we chose animation to retain the anonymity of several early storytellers, but as time went on and our film focused on Bill’s story we realized the power of animation to open up new perspectives. We wanted to bring viewers intimately close to Bill, to witness each tear and wrinkle, to evoke metaphors of loss and isolation, and document both the outer and interior lives of his remarkable, and terrible story. There are 32 thousand drawings in Last Day of Freedom, this project took longer than any other project we have undertaken, involved more drawing, edits, rewrites and generous support than anything we have ever created. It is, to date the work we are proudest of. We are deeply grateful to Bill Babbitt for his openness, love and generosity in sharing his story. And also to the other families we interviewed, we are still in the process of creating a site for their stories.
• Bios Co-Producers/ Co-Directors:
Dee Hibbert-Jones & Nomi Talisman are artist/filmmakers who tell stories that bring to life larger issues of criminal justice and civic responsibility. Their work investigates the ways individuals manage power systems from the mundane to the extreme. They blend animation and documentary forms to challenge entrenched attitudes and move beyond dehumanizing statistics, engendering empathy and critical reflection. The filmmaker team created all key animations on the 32 thousand drawings in Last Day of Freedom. Their collaborative film and media projects have been exhibited and screened in Europe, Israel, Japan and the U.S. in museums and international festivals such as Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, Art in General (NYC), The Israeli Center for Digital Art, Tokyo Zokei Museum and international screenings and exhibitions in the US, Canada, Japan, Israel and Europe. Their recent grants and awards include Cal Humanities Documentary Grant, MacDowell Colony Fellowship, Center for Cultural Innovation Award, Pacific Pioneer Fund, Creative Work Fund Grant, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Award & Residency, NEA project award and BAVC Media Maker Fellowship. Their current film project Last Day of Freedom won the Jury Award for Best Short at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival this year – a coveted award for the top short subject documentary. The film also won the Center for Documentary Studies Filmmaker Award at Full Frame, then received the Justice for All Award at the (In) Justice Film Festival and most recently the audience award at SF Doc Fest. Dee is an Associate Professor of Art & New Media at the University of California Santa Cruz. Nomi is a freelance editor and media specialist. Born in the UK and Israel respectively they now live in San Francisco. This is their first documentary film.