Private Project

The 6th Amendment

Todd finds himself the lone dissenter questioning the type of penalty in a jury room in the biggest case in Boston this century. Through the heated debate he comes to confront his own strength, the will of others, and the collective history of crime and punishment in America.

  • Elika Portnoy
    Beasts of no Nation, Love is Strange, The Voices
  • Mike Harden
  • Robert Tremblay
  • Michael Bowes
    Far From Afghanistan, Red Flag
  • Joan Quinn Eastman
    Death Gets a Life
  • David E. Ornston
    Assassin's Bullet, The Hit List
  • Matthew Rhodes
    Dark Places, Accidental Love
  • Michael Bakkensen
    Key Cast
  • Brookes Reeves
    Key Cast
  • Mary Niederkorn
    Key Cast
  • Mary Niederkorn
    Key Cast
  • JP Valenti
    Key Cast
  • Debbie Lewis
    Key Cast
  • Rose Weaver
    Key Cast
  • Tony V
    Key Cast
  • Melissa Schmidt
    Key Cast
  • Courtland Jones
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    12 minutes 58 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    October 1, 2016
  • Production Budget:
    25,000 USD
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Elika Portnoy

Elika Portnoy started her production company Mutressa Movies in 2008. Since then, she has produced nine feature films including BEASTS OF NO NATION, directed by Cary Fukunaga and starring Idris Elba and Abraham Attah, LOVE IS STRANGE, directed by Ira Sachs and starring John Lithgow, Alfred Molina and Marisa Tomei, THE VOICES directed by Marjane Satrapi and starring Ryan Reynolds, Anna Kendrick and Jacki Weaver, SOFIA directed by Isaac Florentine and starring Christian Slater, Donald Sutherland and Timothy Spall, IMMIGRATION TANGO, directed by David Burton Morris and starring Carlos Leon; and TRICKS OF A WOMAN, directed by Todd Norwood and starring Vincent Pastore and Natasha Lyonne. Her movies have been official selections at the Sundance, Berlin, Venice, Telluride, Toronto and Tribeca Film Festivals and have also received Independent Spirit Awards including BEST ACTOR And BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR for BEASTS OF NO NATION along with several other nominations. She has received numerous awards including BEST PICTURE at the Monaco International Film Festival, as well as BEST OF THE FEST at the Palm Beach International Film Festival.

She is a founding member of the AFI National Council, is a member of the Art's Circle of Film Independent and sits on the Tufts Board of Governors and the Floating Children's Hospital Board in Boston.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

On April 15th, 2013, two bombs exploded during the Boston marathon, 2 blocks away from my house. The bombing had a profound impact on my son, who was the same age as the boy that lost his life.

In the days that followed, news about Tsarnaev covered the Boston press. His kid face and intelligent eyes were staring at me from all newspapers. I found myself conflicted and wondered whether in a liberal state like Massachusetts he would get the death penalty. He did commit an evil act, but at the same time he was a kid that might have looked up to his older brother, the only close relative he had. I knew he grew up in a culture that was very similar to my own where family is more tightly bonded than in the U.S. and one might commit to do things that seem wrong to them, all in the name of their family. I somehow felt that it was unfair that he was about to be judged in a culture that is so individually driven. At the same time, I had no idea what was the right thing to do. Do we, as a society, kill a person because they did something so vicious?

I ended up following the case and spent some time at the trial. Later I met the prosecutor of the case who shared with me that Tsarnaev seemed quite cold until his aunt took the stand and then there were tears in his eyes. However, the families of the victims did not elicit such a response from him. Maybe it’s because he viewed them differently because he was really committed to his "higher goal" and their suffering did not affect him. Or maybe it was just a coping mechanism to deal with the weight of what he did. And what if he disagreed with his older brother, but knew that he had no choice but to support him.

After the trial, one of the jurors on the case came out publicly. He said that he would not have voted for the death penalty if he knew the families of the victim did not want it. This really angered me. He was supposed to do the right thing and not vote for the death penalty regardless of what the victims wanted. It made me realize how thin the rope of justice is and how this one voice could have saved Tsarnaev's life.

Should his life be saved?

This is not a documentary but my interpretation of some of the discussions that took place in the jury room. I would love the film to promote further discussion of the death penalty. Not a discussion in the abstract, but over an extreme case where innocence is not a factor or a necessary part of the discussion.

Where is our humanity and where is it going? Most developed countries have abandoned the death penalty, but yet the United States has not.

Thank you.