MSNBC Films Debuts New Docs

By Chris Ariens 

Beginning tomorrow night, and for the following two Sundays, MSNBC will premiere documentaries produced by independent filmmakers.

Airing at 10pmET, the first doc is titled “My Mother’s Garden” – a daughter’s eyewitness account of her mother’s slide into madness. Then on Sunday, April 12th, Sean Penn’s “Witch Hunt” brings light to an injustice that took 20 years to correct. And on Sunday, April 19th, the premiere of “Robert Blecker Wants Me Dead.”

More details about the episodes after the jump…


• Sunday, April 5th: MY MOTHER’S GARDEN

“My Mother’s Garden” is the eye-opening story of 61-year-old Eugenia Lester, whose hoarding disorder has taken a life-threatening turn. On a quiet tree-lined street in Granada Hills, California, Lester lives among piles of debris and rotting garbage; a living mass of waste that has literally pushed her out of her house and into her garden. Upon learning that Eugenia is in danger of losing her home for violating city health codes, her children step in. This one-hour film is directed by Cynthia Lester, Eugenia’s daughter, who documents her mother’s compulsive disorder and the way in which one family comes together to cope with a mental illness that affects millions.

• Sunday, April 12th: WITCH HUNT

“Witch Hunt” – a documentary film by Dana Nachman and Don Hardy and executive produced and narrated by Academy Award-winner Sean Penn will have its two-hour world television premiere on MSNBC on Sunday, April 12th at 10:00 p.m. ET.

In “Witch Hunt,” Penn tells the story of dozens of parents in Bakersfield, CA in the early 1980’s, who are convicted of child molestation. Hard-working, blue-collar moms and dads with no criminal records all plead not guilty and all are convicted. The problem is that none of them actually are guilty.

From the accusations to the discovery of their innocence, “Witch Hunt” documents the experiences of these wrongly convicted parents and their children who falsely accuse them. Almost all of the children now say they were coerced to lie. Subsequently, their parents served anywhere from six to twenty years in prison, with the last person acquitted in 2004.


In “Robert Blecker Wants Me Dead” cameras follow law professor Robert Blecker, one of America’s most impassioned crusaders for capital punishment, to Riverbend Maximum Security Institution outside of Nashville. There he meets Daryl Holton, who, in 1997, coolly and methodically lined up his four children in an auto shop and shot them to death. Sentenced to death, Holton has declined to file any of his permitted appeals as he prepares to die.

As Blecker interviews Holton, he finds that this multiple murderer has a sharp legal mind. For the next year and a half, the two men develop an usual and captivating friendship that stems from a strange, philosophical kinship. “Robert Blecker Wants Me Dead” is a surprising film that explores the rarely discussed emotional aspect of capital punishment and the morality of the American death penalty.