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At the mouth of the Amazon River in Belem, Brazil, a murder trial is taking place. The victim was Sister Dorothy Stang, a 73-year old Catholic nun from Dayton, Ohio who was shot six times at point blank range. The events that led to her death and the trials that follow reveal a larger battle currently being fought for the future of the rainforest.
Just Media and HBO present THEY KILLED SISTER DOROTHY, a gripping documentary and real-life courtroom drama that reveals the true story behind the scenes of this incredible story.
For 30 years, Sister Dorothy Stang, a Catholic nun from Dayton Ohio, worked in the Brazilian Amazon, trying to improve the lives of the region's huge underclass. But in the final years of her life, her attention turned to the rampant destruction of the Amazon – a fifth of which is already destroyed. Her answer to the problems of deforestation and poverty was the Sustainable Development Project, or PDS – in which landless workers could farm sustainably while keeping the rainforest intact. But the program received violent opposition from the region's powerful loggers and ranchers resulting in numerous death threats. . . Were they responsible for her murder?
Within days of her brutal murder, Dorothy's younger brother David Stang (a former missionary himself) flew to the Brazilian Amazon to learn the truth behind her murder. The filmmakers of THEY KILLED SISTER DOROTHY traveled with him, discovering an incredible cast of characters and a chain of events that would be unbelievable if it weren't all true.
Three pistolieros were quickly arrested and admitted to the murder. But soon the accused gunmen reveal information which leads to the arrest of a powerful rancher and wealthy landowner. Meanwhile, Dorothy's fellow nuns and the farmers of the PDS continue to struggle to carry out Dorothy's mission. Justice in Dorothy's case will help ensure their survival, but the region's justice system has a history of impunity…will in any of that change with this high-profile case?
With unprecedented access to both sides of the conflict and to the courtroom, THEY KILLED SISTER DOROTHY follows the dramatic twists and turns of the murder case, while exploring the complex factors which led to this violent confrontation in the Amazon. The result is not only a poignant investigation of one of the planet's critical environmental problems and its innovative potential answer, but a dramatic story worthy of Hollywood blockbusters.
THEY KILLED SISTER DOROTHY is produced by Academy Award® winner Nigel Nobel and narrated by Martin Sheen. Producer Henry Ansbacher and director Daniel Junge also have a number of awards to their credit. The crew also includes a contingent of talented Brazilian filmmakers. THEY KILLED SISTER DOROTHY features a new original song, "Forever," by Grammy-nominated Brazilian singer/songwriter Bebel Gilberto.
THEY KILLED SISTER DOROTHY premiered at the 2008 South by Southwest Film Festival, where it won the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award for Best Documentary. It has subsequently played in a number of prestigious festivals, including Seattle, Chicago, and Rio de Janeiro. THEY KILLED SISTER DOROTHY premieres in early 2009 on HBO.