Filmmaker Antonio Méndez Esparza’s first documentary film Courtroom 3H, has its North American premiere at AFI Docs. The documentary takes inspiration from the words of James Baldwin: “If one really wants to know how justice is administered in a country, one goes to the unprotected and listens to their testimony.”
The documentary film takes an inner look at the Dependency Court of Leon County, Florida which specializes in judicial matters related to children and parents with a priority mandate to reunify families as quickly and safely as possible.
Courtroom 3H is set in the same Tallahassee community as Méndez Esparza’s Life and Nothing More (La vida y nada más) winner of the FIPRESCI prize at the 2017 San Sebastian Film Festival and the 2018 John Cassavetes Award at the Film Independent Spirit Awards.
“With this film, we pursue an idea of a certain defenselessness of the citizen before the judicial systems, since the citizen is at the mercy of the law- fair or unfair. We focus on the accused, the anonymous characters. Courtroom 3H represents people in between institutions. People are, in a way, parts of the machinery. This is not to objectify them, but rather to give a face, a soul to the machine, to represent an institution that can sometimes succeed or may fail them. This is one of the only courts in the United States that works for rehabilitation, although not always successfully. In essence, the current problems of our society can be perceived through the cases and dynamics of the Court and how the Court deals with them. Being able to make this film has been a miracle. We have never done a documentary before, even though we have been close. We have embraced the documentary and almost felt like another spectator in court.” – Antonio Méndez Esparza
Watch the official trailer for Courtroom 3H