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Meet the 2013 Sundance Filmmakers #22: Dawn Porter Documents the Struggles of Public Defenders in the South in ‘Gideon’s Army’

Meet the 2013 Sundance Filmmakers #22: Dawn Porter Documents the Struggles of Public Defenders in the South in 'Gideon's Army'

Before embarking on her film career, documentary filmmaker Dawn Porter was an attorney at ABC Television. Since, she’s gone to work in narrative features as an executive producer for films including “Serious Moonlight,” which premiered in 2009 at the Tribeca Film Festival, and Showtime’s “The Green.” She’s at Sundance this year with “Gideon’s Army.”

What’s It About: “Young public defenders working in the deep south. They have low salaries, large case loads and little help.”

What’s It’s REALLY About: “Idealistic young people who want to help poor people. The criminal justice system is their Goliath and they have very limited tools to fight back. In the end being a good lawyer is not enough – they have to decide how much they are willing to sacrifice.”

My Chief Challenge: “The actual practice of law is not a very visually interesting thing – its a lot of computer research and typing. So a big challenge was to show their day to day work and why its so hard.”

What I Shot On: “A bunch of different cameras but an AF-100 at the end – beautiful film like footage. I love that camera.”

Some Films That Inspired Me: “Murder on a Sunday Morning,” “The Interrupters,” “The Undefeated” and “The Oath.”

What I Have in the Works: “A film for PBS about the spy network set up by Mississippi during the civil rights movement – they successfully recruited black spies. I also just shot for a day at the last abortion clinic in Mississippi. Mississippi has been good to me.”

Indiewire invited Sundance Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they’re doing next. We’ll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2013 festival.

Keep checking HERE every day up to the launch of the festival on January 17 for the latest profiles.

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