Fourteen Days in May

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Fourteen Days in May
Directed by Paul Hamann
Produced by Paul Hamann
Starring Edward Earl Johnson
Clive Stafford Smith
Cinematography Pat O'Shea
Edited by Andrew Willsmore
Distributed by British Broadcasting Corporation
Release date(s) 1987
Running time 88 minutes
Country UK
Language English
Mississippi State Penitentiary, the setting of the film

Fourteen Days in May is a documentary directed by Paul Hamann and originally shown on television by the British Broadcasting Corporation in 1987. The programme recounts the final days before the execution of Edward Earl Johnson, an American prisoner convicted of rape and murder and imprisoned in the Mississippi State Penitentiary. Johnson protested his innocence and claimed that his confession had been made under duress. He was executed in Mississippi's gas chamber on 20 May 1987.

The documentary crew, given access to the prison warden, guards and chaplain and to Johnson and his family, filmed the last days of Johnson's life in detail. The documentary argues against the death penalty and maintains that capital punishment is disproportionately applied to African-Americans convicted of crimes against whites. The programme features attorney Clive Stafford Smith, a noted advocate against capital punishment.

Fourteen Days in May won a British Film Institute Grierson Award and a top prize at the Festival dei Populi. It has been shown in many countries but has only appeared in an abbreviated form in the United States, on HBO. Hamann disowned this shortened version.

It was in direct response to this documentary that the Lifelines organisation was set up, to organise pen pals for death row prisoners.

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