Film: David and Me

A documentary on David McCallum’s wrongful conviction will be premiered at Toronto’s Hot Docs Festival and will no doubt be played in at least one and maybe two New York Festivals.  Actually, the film is only secondarily about the wrongful conviction and primarily about the relationship between McCallum and his young friend on the outside, Ray Klonsky. Filmmakers Ray Klonsky and Marc Lamy draw a stunning and sympathetic portrait of McCallum, as a thoughtful, genuine and emotionally honest human being. The late Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter plays a significant role in the film and, as McCallum’s representative, has played a large role in attempting to free this man imprisoned for more than twenty-eight years.

McCallum, at Ray’s father’s request, served initially as a mentor to the young man who was getting into trouble in the community. His experience as an incarcerated man opened Ray’s eyes to the almost endless opportunities that he had in his own life and was in the process of throwing away. As the friendship grew, Ray became involved in helping to free his new found friend from prison.

The film also portrays the McCallum family, at least that portion of it who remain at  home, i.e. his 77 year old mother, his sister, Mattie, Mattie’s two children (David’s niece and nephew, and, amazingly, his 52 year old sister, Ella. Ella is severely disabled, having extreme cerebral palsy and having been born without a spine. The family was told that, at the outside, she would live to thirteen years of age. Mrs. McCallum has had to endure so much and yet remains steadfast in her beliefs.

David and Me is multi-layered. The theme of the film is the power of relationships of all sorts, how one person can have a profound effect on the life of another, how the goodness of people can transcend the evil that befalls them. McCallum comes off as a thoughtful and deeply emotional man whose fate still hangs in the balance of a very flawed justice system.

Premiered at Hot Docs (Toronto) on Sunday April 27th. Played to four capacity houses and was voted 11th out of 197 in the audience choice award. On TVO, June 4th; American premiere at the Manhattan Film Festival (the Quad) on June 20th at 7 p.m.

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About ken

I am a former Toronto teacher and writer now living in Vancouver. I work with Dr. Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter, with whom I published Eye of the Hurricane: My path from Darkness to Freedom (Chicago review Press, 2011), as Director of Media Relations and as an advocate for wrongly convicted prisoners. Other publication credits include Songs of Aging Children (Arsenal Pulp Press, 1992) a book of short stories about troubled youth, and Taking Steam, a play co-authored with the late Brian Shein, staged at New York's Jewish Repertory Theatre and Toronto in 1983. Life Without (Quattro Books, 2012) is a novella about a New York cab driver wrongly convicted of killing his pregnant wife. Gary Geddes (Lt. Governor's Award for Literary Excellence) described it as "one of the most brilliant and harrowing short novels I've read since I went on a John Hawkes binge."

5 thoughts on “Film: David and Me

  1. Hello Ken,

    I found your website while looking for more information on David McCallum. My husband and I watched ‘David & Me’ on TVO a few nights ago and have been thinking of David ever since. The film was fascinating and certainly presented a compelling argument for David’s innocence. Would you be able to share any insight on if/when the new DA will be reviewing the conviction? Is there a petition we could sign?

    Thank you,
    MM

    • Dear MM,
      I was extremely confident in the case and encouraged by the response to the film (still am). We have had reassurance after reassurance that the case will be or is being examined, that we will be heard over the parole issue and so forth. But when we try to make an appointment with the designee, we get nothing but another reassurance. So, if you want to help, I’d ask you to simply call the Brooklyn DA’s office, ask to speak to someone from the Conviction Review Unit (they likely won’t let you) and say that you saw the film and ask what is being done about the case. You won’t get an answer (if you do, please get back), but your very call will tell them that the issue remains alive in the public. That is the key.
      So I thank you for your kindness and your willingness to help.
      Ken

      • Thank you for your reply and of course, your direction. I will do this and on the off-chance I am given any information, I will of course pass it on to you.

        Thanks again and best wishes as you keep up the fight,
        MM

  2. I just watched your film about David McCallum. I was touched and inspired by his fight and his words. Is there an address I could send him a letter. I understand not giving his home address but is there a p.o. Box or something like it I could write him?

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