True Conviction

(2017)
84 minutes

There’s a new detective agency in Dallas, Texas, started by a group of exonerated men with decades in prison served between them. True Conviction explores their stories of wrongful imprisonment, their struggles to start their lives over again as free men, and their quest to help others who may be innocent.

“True Conviction” is powerful, devastating and remarkable. It’s a film about the true injustices in our judicial system and the lack of compassion that we have for one another that continues to permeate this reality. However, in the face of all of this wrongdoing, Johnnie Lindsey, Christopher Scott, and Steven Phillips find joy in the lives that they have been able to reclaim. Things aren’t picture perfect or even where they might have been had they not been wrongfully convicted. And yet, they choose to thrive and extend their hands to others who have lost all hope.

-Shadow and Act

An associate professor of documentary filmmaking in Stanford University’s Art & Art History Department, Meltzer is the first Bay Area filmmaker to become a DocFest Vanguard Award honoree. True Conviction is his thoughtful, urgent portrait of three ex-prisoners — Scott, Johnnie Lindsey and Steven Phillips (collectively the three men served 60 years for crimes they did not commit) — who banded together to form an ad hoc nonprofit detective agency to investigate the cases of other prisoners, like Hill, who may have been unjustly imprisoned.

-San Francisco Chronicle

Awarded Special Jury Mention, Documentary Feature CategoryTribeca Film Festival, 2017

Non-Fiction Vanguard AwardSF DocFest, 2017

Production Grant from the MacArthur Foundation

Sundance Institute's Documentary Film Grant

Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund

Informant

(2012)

Informant examines Brandon Darby, a radical activist turned FBI informant who has been both vilified and deified, but never entirely understood. In 2005, Darby became an overnight activist hero when he traveled to Katrina-devastated New Orleans and braved toxic floodwaters to rescue a friend stranded in the Ninth Ward. Soon after, he became a founding member of Common Ground, a successful grassroots relief organization. After two young activists were arrested at the 2008 Republican National Convention, Darby shocked close friends and activists nationwide by revealing he had been instrumental in the indictment as an FBI informant. David Hanners, a journalist for St. Paul Pioneer Press, summarizes Darby, “When you interview people about Brandon Darby, you realize that everyone has a different idea of who he is.”

An absorbing puzzle with the potential to intrigue viewers all along the political spectrum.

-Variety

A kind of “Fog of War” for the age of Occupy.

-Indiewire

Mesmerizing and Timely! Informant is riveting as it slowly assembles a damning profile of its subject.

-Village Voice

Smartly gives all sides of the story their chance to speak, creating an almost Rashomon-like viewing experience where we're encouraged to decide the truth on our own.

-Slant

Grand Jury Prize – DOC NYC

IDFA (International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam)

Best Feature Documentary – Austin Film Festival

Best Documentary – Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival

Off the Charts

(2003)

OFF THE CHARTS: THE SONG-POEM STORY, is a fascinating, at times unsettling, documentary that exposes the strange underworld of the song-poem industry. In this little known subculture, “ordinary people” respond to come-on ads on the back pages of magazines (“Send in Your Lyrics and Make $50,000 in royalties!”), mailing in their heartfelt but often bizarre poems to “music industry” companies that, for a fee, turn those poems into real recordings. Through interviews with several song-poem writers, the jaded producers and musicians who set their words to music, and a few of the growing number of zealous song-poem connoisseurs, OFF THE CHARTS explores a truly unique, never-before-seen slice of Gothic Americana.

This music has everything in the world going against it. It's completely artificial, it's a scam, it's ... you know, I could probably list fifteen different reasons why it shouldn't work. But, for some reason, something comes through all this stuff. And I think that's part of the charm and attractiveness that it has.

-Ellery Eskelin, musician and son of song-poem auteur, Rodney Keith Eskelin

Premiere – SXSW Film Festival

Television Broadcast – Independent Lens, on PBS

Welcome to Nollywood

(2007)

“Relentlessly entertaining and informative, Jamie Meltzer’s Welcome to Nollywood boasts wall-to-wall bravado filtered through African-style entrepreneurship: Hook any of the producer-directors profiled here to a generator and the energy might just offset global reliance on oil. Genially boastful Chico Ejiro (aka “Mr. Prolific”), of Grand Touch Pictures, has made so many films he can’t recall all of their incredibly florid plots. His company’s name was inspired by the fact that Whoopi Goldberg pic “Sister Act” came from some outfit called Touchstone. Izu Ojukwu, who grew up with 40 family members on one modest spread “all eating out of the same pot,” stole money as a kid to sneak off to the movies. Izu got a gander at a projector, went home and built one of his own from scratch, then figured out that motion pictures are made up of still frames. Izu describes how he feels at one with the camera, risking his own neck to get impressive action shots. Helmers interviewed are also producers, and they hail “the democratization of the means of production” in the form of digital video. “Celluloid was expensive — if you didn’t have the money, you didn’t have a voice,” one practitioner asserts.” Lisa Nesselson, Variety

Roger Corman would swoon at the DIY antics employed by Nigerian moviemakers, like shooting chase scenes dangling from car bonnets and hiring former guerrillas as extras.Churning out nearly 2,500 straight-to-video releases a year, they’ve made the West African nation the world’s third-largest movie market after the U.S. and India. Director Jamie Meltzer (Off the Charts) paints an astounding backdrop— cardboard plots, three-day shoots, failing generators—then follows “Mr. Prolific,” Chico Ejiro (who wrapped 80 films in a five-year period), as he mounts his most daring production to date, a re-creation of Liberian civil war that threatens to bankrupt him.

 

-TimeOut NYC

Full Frame Documentary Film Festival

Silverdocs

AFI Film Festival

Melbourne International Film Festival

Mill Valley Film Festival

Avignon Film Festival

New York African Film Festival

The Paley Center for Media DocFest

La Caminata

(2009)

Fed up with the mass migration of their community, the small Mexican town of Alberto creates a one-of-a-kind tourist attraction they call La Caminata, a simulated nighttime border crossing, complete with fake border patrol chasing balaclava-clad coyotes. The experience is a cross between adventure tourism and a way for participants, largely middle class Mexican tourists, to experience firsthand the hardships of the border crossing. La Caminata details the story of this unlikely attempt to save a small community, offering a powerful look at the effect of migration in home communities, and opening a view to the immigration debate on the other side.

Want to do as millions of undocumented immigrants have done and illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border? That will be $18. In the small town of El Alberto, Mexico, tourists can get the 'illegal' experience without being in any real danger, aside from some cuts and bruises. More than 100 residents -- an estimated one-eighth of the town's population -- are employed by the Caminata Nocturna, a simulated experience that allows tourists to act as migrants attempting to cross the border.

-Huffington Post

Jamie Meltzer’s LA CAMINATA highlights the complexity of immigration in riveting and unexpected ways. Migrants, themselves, are absent from the film in the same way that they are missing from their hometowns. With that absence looming over the film, we are privileged to see and hear how those who are left behind in a tiny town in Mexico make sense of the difficult and frequently deadly journey across the border. While the campesinos actively connect the dots between immigration, community and nation, their wealthier compatriots are content to have those connections revealed to them as spectacle.

-Deborah L. Jaramillo, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Film and Television, Boston University

In its short time frame La Caminata sensitively opens our eyes to an as-yet-unexplored side of Mexican migration to the United States: the people left behind.

-Karen Cirillo, Programmer, True/False Film Festival and Doxita

True/False Film Festival

SILVERDOCS: AFI/Discovery Channel Documentary Festival

Next Wave Festival

Message to Man International Film Festival

Temescal Street Cinema

Rhode Island International Film Festival

Rooftop Films Summer Series

Salem Film Festival