Last Day of Freedom

We’re pleased to announce that MHASF’s community partner KQED has been nominated for an Academy Award!

Last year, KQED’s Truly CA aired Last Day of Freedom, a short documentary about Manny Babbitt, a Vietnam veteran who lived with post-traumatic stress after his return from serving in the Vietnam War. He was executed in 1999 for the murder of an elderly woman in Sacramento, despite evidence of his mental health challenges and evidence that the woman’s death was not a result of violence.

The film has been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject). To celebrate the nomination, KQED will rebroadcast Last Day of Freedom next week. It airs Monday, February 22 at 7:30 p.m. on KQED. The film is also available to view on Netflix: https://www.netflix.com/watch/80093842

Since Manny is no longer around to tell his own story, Last Day of Freedom is told from the perspective of his brother, Bill. Bill’s version of events does include some misconceptions about mental health challenges, including the misconception that people with mental health challenges are dangerous and violent. In fact, people with mental health challenges are more likely to be victims of violence than we are to be violent ourselves.

However, the documentary paints a clear picture of the need for better, more accessible treatment and judicial reform. Shocking information about some of facts left out at the trial, given just before the closing credits, may leave some viewers surprised that an injustice like Manny’s conviction could happen. Many in our San Francisco mental health community will see this heartbreaking revelation as a call for advocacy, dignity, and human rights for people with mental health challenges.

Have you seen Last Day of Freedom? Tell us your thoughts about it in the comments!

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