Alba Films, A Paris-based company, has secured French distribution rights for the timely social justice documentary The State of Texas vs. Melissa directed by Sabrina Van Tassel. The doc is set at the heart of the Latino community in South Texas and depicts the trial and life of Melissa Lucio, the first Hispanic woman sentenced to death row in Texas, the State with the most executions in America since 1976.
The documentary has screened at the Tribeca Film Festival and Raindance Film Festival in the UK, where the film won the Best Documentary Award. Alba Films will now release the film in France on June 2, 2021, as announced by Variety.
Lucio was blamed for her two-year-old daughter’s abuse and death, has been on death row for 12 years. Her sentence had just been reversed, but the State quickly appealed the decision. Lucio is still waiting for an appeal from the State. Her attorneys argue that the system was rigged against her from the corrupt court-appointed counsel who failed to provide evidence to the District Attorney.
While The State of Texas vs. Melissa took Van Tassel many years to make, the timing of the film is more than appropriate. The federal system has recently re-established executions after a 17-year hiatus, resulting in many deaths in the final weeks of the Trump presidency. President-elect Joe Biden and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris shared concern in the overhaul of the criminal justice system.