From the filmmakers Cassandra Herrman and Kelly Whalen:
We titled this film TULIA, TEXAS because in many ways it is the story of one small town’s search for justice. But it’s a story that has implications for communities across America.
By asking viewers to consider the experiences of all those involved, from law enforcement and jurors to the defendants and their families, we hope the film compels them to take a critical look at law enforcement practices and the biases that may exist in their own communities.
What happened in Tulia is rooted in a much bigger, systemic problem and our aim with this documentary is to provoke debate and challenge viewers to consider the deep ties between race, poverty and the criminal justice system in this country.
Their three favorite films:
Bamako, Divorce Iranian Style, Raising Arizona
Thin Blue Line, The Sting, (and really any good heist film!), Antonia’s Line
Their advice for aspiring filmmakers:
Don’t give up! We never thought TULIA, TEXAS would be broadcasting nearly six years after our first shoot. (And there were many times we didn’t think it would be seen beyond our laptop monitors.) But we kept at it, applying for round after round of funding, and it was just when we were ready to shelve the project that we got the call from [funder] ITVS.
Their most inspirational foods for making independent film:
At home: coffee and dessert! On the road in Texas: coffee and anything with a short shelf life at the Quick Mart. We were also lucky enough to stay at the Lasso Motel in Tulia, whose Indian-born owner made us some fantastic food.
For the long haul: salad and other leafy green stuff, which is sometimes hard to come by when you’re traveling on the road. In West Texas: the Mexican plates at Insurgentes in Amarillo always recharged me, and I think we ate steak with just about every person featured in the film.
Cassandra Herrman’s work includes films about immigration, juvenile justice and civil rights. American Exile, about an exiled Black Panther leader, screened at Sundance in 2002. For the PBS series FRONTLINE/World, Herrman has produced and photographed stories about human rights in Zimbabwe and female runners in Kenya. Her FRONTLINE/World piece about the humanitarian crisis in Darfur was nominated for a 2006 National Emmy Award.
Kelly Whalen’s recent works include an MSNBC television special, Rising from Ruin, about hurricane recovery in New Orleans, which she produced and photographed. She also co-produced The Fire Next Time and Not In Our Town: When Hate Happens Here, PBS documentaries about community responses to hate crimes and speech. Whalen documented hate crimes and ultranationalist activity in Russia as a fellow of the International Reporting Project.