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WATCH: Why GIDEON'S ARMY Doesn't Need to Have a Villain

By KJ Relth

If there's one image that sums up the overwhelming workload of our nation's public defenders, it can be found in the middle of Dawn Porter's recent documentary Gideon's Army. The image surfaces when we enter the office of Travis Williams, a young attorney who is practically buried by mountainous stacks of papers and files that amount to his current and ongoing caseload. At times tackling over 100 cases simultaneously, Travis is just one of the 15,000 men and women who provide proper legal council and services to those in the US who could not otherwise afford an attorney. Along with several other optimistic public defenders based in the South, Travis's undying spirit and motivation drives this film to its final payoff, which reminds everyone that hard work is all about the small victories.

Director Porter, who was a practicing attorney before beginning her filmmaking career, felt that entering the courtroom and the legal system through the conduit of the underrepresented would make her film more than just a captivating story. Her hope was to shed light on a severely strained criminal justice system in desperate need of funding.

Gideon's Army screened as part of the IDA Documentary Screening Series in November at the Landmark Theater in West Los Angeles. Criticwire Associate Editor Steve Greene sat down with Porter to discuss why she wanted the criminal justice system at large to stand in as the "bad guy" in her film.

Watch below:

You can watch more moments from this Q&A at our IDA Screening Series playlist on our YouTube channel

Learn more about the other docs set to play in the IDA Documentary Screening Series