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Mario's Story

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1-Disc Version
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Product Details

  • Actors: Mario Rocha
  • Directors: Jeff Werner & Susan Koch
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Westlake Entertainmnt Inc
  • DVD Release Date: December 11, 2007
  • Run Time: 98 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000W1SZCM
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #178,484 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Product Description

In 1998 Mario Rocha, a young Latino, was convicted of murder on the basis of one questionable identification and not a shred of physical evidence. He was 16 years old at the time of his arrest, yet tried as an adult and sentenced to life in prison. While spending over two years in juvenile hall waiting for his trial, Mario joined a writing program and discovered his talent and love for writing. Today his stories, plays and poems are published and performed in prisons throughout the country. This film interweaves Mario's story as an inmate in one of California's toughest maximum-security prisons with the efforts of an unlikely group of people who have come together to win his freedom.


Winner - Audience Award - Best Documentary Feature --Los Angeles Film Festival

Customer Reviews

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See all 12 customer reviews
And every drop raises the river.
Sherry A. Lewis
It's a tough film to watch but it does hold out hope for anyone who has been wrongfully convicted and treated like an animal by the criminal "justice system."
Matthew G. Sherwin
I highly recommend this movie to any instructor who is teaching Correction Laws and Liability.
De Anna Romero

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Matthew G. Sherwin HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 17, 2008
Mario's Story is the heartbreaking story of a teen wrongfully incarcerated and mistreated by an inept legal system. The film documents the night of the party Mario attended when someone was shot and killed; and we quickly learn that Mario was convicted based on one single person's eye witness account that was shaky at best. Mario's new lawyers allege that Mario's original defense attorney did not do a good job of defending Mario in court. In addition, the lack of witnesses to help exonerate Mario stems from the threats from gangs in Mario's neighborhood and the fear of reprisal if anyone told the truth about who did kill the young man who died at that party.

The documentary introduces us a woman who is practically a saint; Sister Janet Harris who was a religious leader at juvenile hall where Mario spent two years awaiting his murder trial. She instinctively knew Mario was wrongfully accused but it's amazing to watch this documentary as we find out just how long it takes to get Mario released from prison. The system is intensely bent on defending itself and the two brief interviews we get from the prosecution attorney at Mario's original trial really only shows us the lawyer's insistence that Mario "messed up" by not telling enough information to exonerate himself during the preparations for the trial.

Just as others have noted, the documentary effectively shows us the great diversity of people who come to Mario's defense as he waits remarkably patiently behind bars for a crime he never committed. We get stunning interviews with members of Mario's family; we see lawyers at a prestigious law firm take Mario's case on as a pro bono case and Mario's huge family never stops believing that he will return to them someday.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Loves To Read on March 8, 2008
The film begins with a 911 call to report the shooting of a young male at a party. He dies at the scene. We learn that 16 year old Mario Rocha has been arrested in connection with the murder. We quickly learn that Sister Janet Harris, a Catholic nun is convinced that the trial that convicted Mario of the murder and gave him two life sentences was wrongful and that Mario is very innocent. Have you ever felt you may have been a raw deal in a particular situation-maybe trying out for a sports team or a part in a play or whatever. How would you feel at 18, having spent two years in jail waiting for your trial and now given two life sentences for a crime that you didn't commit? Mario may be one of the most amazing young men you will ever meet. His spirit and his will seem almost unbreakable despite the odds being 99 to 1 that he could ever get a new trial. Habeas Corpus appeals are almost never overturned despite what seems to be clear evidence that he was underrepresented and misrepresented by his legal counsel. This is story of an incredible young man who learns he has the gift of poetry in prison and a law firm that did pro bono work believing in his innocence and a nun and a family that wouldn't give up. This should be watched by everyone entering the legal profession as well as everyone associated with the criminal justice system. How many Marios are in prison? We will probably never know but one is too many. You will be heart broken by the failures of our legal system and inspired by the spirit of this young man and undying commitment of his family, law firm and one very determined nun. [...]
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jeffery Mingo on December 21, 2007
A teen is wrongfully given life in prison and this documentary covers how multiple parties work hard to get the conviction overturned. This work shows how the courts do not guarantee justice. This shows that many people in prison may be innocent, that "innocent until proven guilty" may be all talk.

The work shows Mario as a nice guy and positive person. I do wonder if activists would have taken the cause of an inmate who was bitter or not as talented or family-oriented as Mario. The work shows people of all ages, races, professions, and genders supporting this cause. Still, so many people in prison wrongly are low-income people and young men of color that I was disappointed about how "racism" or "classism" barely is spoken in this work.

This documentary is very important, but I do think it ran on the long side. People who strongly oppose the death penalty and people who live true crime narrators, or court television for that matter, may really enjoy this documentary.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A. Nathaniel Wallace, Jr. on September 11, 2014
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This beginning of this documentary shows the suffering of a woman who has lost her child to the California prison system. Her sadness is infectious and it made emphasize for her plight and the rest of Mario Rocha's family. The DVD tells the story of a man wrongfully accused of a crime that he did not commit. It shows a man with fortitude and determination, a man who struggled against the odds to clear his name with the help of dogged attorneys who would not give up the fight on his behalf. it is a documentary that shows how when one gets caught up in the machinery of American justice, one almost never escapes its ruthless crutches.

While at a party there was a fight that Mario Rocha was attending. An honor student was shot down and Mario Rocha was arrested and tried as a coconspirator of two other "gang members." Unfortunately for Mario his first attorney did not put on a good defense. He did not begin investigating the case until a month before it was to be tried. He did not interview witnesses at the scene, and he did not request that Mario be tried separately from the alleged "gang members." All these blunders led to Mario's conviction and sentencing to life in prison for a crime he did not commit.

Fortunately for Mario he had a guardian angel, a nun who believed in him and a family that loves him unconditionally. This allowed him to shine and deal with all of his travails through nine years in prison and countless brutal stabbings by jealous inmates who resented his knowledge and avenue of legal escape from the terrible confines of California's Calipatra state prison.

I met Mario Rocha whilst working in a building he lived in. While I did not know him well, I could see he exuded a greatness, a resoluteness that few men could ever have.
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