Social justice is an important issue these days in America. That’s why Mackenzie Robertson spent her senior year at The School of Communication and Media creating a short documentary about the subject. That documentary, Life Without Parole: The Sammy Gladden Story is now playing at the Montclair Film Festival.
Robertson successfully created a beautiful production that told the meaningful story of Sammy Gladden, a man who served 26 years in prison after being charged as an adult when he was 16. Robertson mentioned that one of the most satisfying parts of creating her twenty-three minute documentary was realizing that she was amplifying Gladden’s voice after he was ignored and judged for so many years.
Robertson, who grew up in Wayne, graduated from Montclair State University this past May. She received a bachelor’s degree in Television and Digital Media with a concentration in Documentary Production and a minor in Justice and Families. She was inspired to tell Gladden’’s story after she learned that so many juveniles were sentenced to life without parole in the 1990s.
Robertson wanted to create a documentary that made her feel the way she felt when she consumed meaningful art. “I am not a politician, I cannot make change through policy, that’s not me,” she said. “But the one thing I do know how to do is filmmaking, so I was very inspired.” With the support of her father, her SCM teacher Steve McCarthy and her fellow peers in the television and digital media program, Robertson set out to shoot this documentary in North Philadelphia while finishing her senior year.
She remembers telling her mother during sophomore year at MSU that her goal was to create a film and have it accepted into a respected film festival. With an amazing support system, a degree and this new credential, Robertson is hoping to develop a successful career in the film industry.
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Check out Life Without Parole: The Sammy Gladden Story October 17-20 at the Montclair Film Festival to learn more about juvenile justice, and to support a fellow Red Hawk.
Watch the Trailer: