Wednesday, November 11, 2009

UW 20 Student is the Focus of Documentary Mario's Story

Former UW student Marios Rocha is the focus of a documentary, Mario’s Story, screening Wednesday November 11 at the GW Law School. The film chronicles his wrongful conviction on murder charges and his struggle, largely through writing about his situation, to have that conviction overturned

Former UW student , Mario Rocha, is the focus of a
documentary, "Mario's Story". The film will be screened on Wednesday, November 11, in Stuart 101
(Law School) from 6:00-8:30. A Q&A will follow.

Professor Robin Marcus has this to say about her former student: “Mario Rocha was my student Spring semester 2009. On the first day of class - by way of introduction - he told us he had done 11 years of a double life sentence in prison having been falsely accused of murder, and had only been released the year before. Everyone was stunned; Mario is such an affable, easy-going guy that his revelation seemed incongruous and it took a few beats before incredulity ("Did he really say that, did I hear that right?") morphed into disbelief and then into wonder. The documentary, "Mario's Story" chronicles the trial, the conviction and the coalition that mounted an extraordinary effort leading to an appeal and the overturning of his conviction. Mario was only sixteen when he was convicted and spent much of his time in prison writing about not only his own ordeal but other cases of injustice in the American criminal justice system. In spite of his ordeal he is an optimistic young man who has a voracious appetite for learning and for social justice; in a few years he'd like to be in law school. Because the focus of the class was on a related subject i.e. African American speech and the rhetorical themes involved including liberation and rebellion, Mario regularly found openings in class discussion to make observations about his fight to be heard, the research he undertook to publish his story in scholarly and prison publications, and the guidance he received from mentoring academics. He also spoke about the difficulties of incarceration, difficulties made even more tragic by his innocence. As a speaker, he is now in great demand by human rights and social justice organizations.”

And Mario has this to say about his University Writing experience: “My UW course was my favorite class last semester because it. made me think critically about a language that I had only experienced as a young Xicano from Los Angeles and as a California prisoner--never as a student. Watching Spike Lee's Bamboozled at Sankofa in Howard at night is still my fondest memory. I remember walking back to GW with my UW peers, discussing the heavy subject matter--the history of racism towards Blacks in American entertainment--and I remember thinking, ‘I am so glad I took this course.’ The same can be said about my path to GW as a whole.”

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