An American Tragedy
In 1989, 17-year-old Kelli Hall was kidnapped, raped, and murdered in St. Charles by Jeffrey Ferguson and an accomplice. Ferguson was eventually caught and convicted, receiving a death sentence; he was executed nearly 25 years after the crime, in 2014. During the intervening years, Ferguson transformed from a drug- and alcohol-addicted, defiantly unrepentant reprobate to a clean-and-sober, selfless model inmate — someone who helped improve the lives of his fellow convicts in a variety of ways and took full responsibility for the heinous acts he committed. “An American Tragedy” deftly splits its focus: The film first recounts the crime and trial through archival news footage and contemporary interviews, emphasizing the trauma to Kelli’s family, and then shifts its emphasis to Ferguson, who to this point appears wholly unsympathetic, and reveals the metamorphosis he’s undergone in prison. In relating the story of Ferguson's redemption, “An American Tragedy” movingly and subtly addresses issues related to capital punishment and criminal rehabilitation.
Film CategoryHuman Rights Spotlight Interfaith Competition Leon & Mary Strauss Documentary Spotlight Show-Me Cinema Women in Film Spotlight
SubjectCrime Human Rights Policing/Criminal Justice
Peace & Justice Commission and Respect Life Apostolate of the Archdiocese of St. Louis and Incarnate Word Foundation