Locally produced doc wins top film fest prize

A local filmmaker’s documentary about a battered woman jailed for killing her husband, and the Orthodox Jewish attorney who freed her, has won the top prize at the 2011 San Francisco International Film Festival. “Crime After Crime” won the festival’s Golden Gate Award, which comes with a $25,000 prize.

“Crime After Crime” was produced and directed by Berkeley filmmaker Yoav Potash. It tells the story of the legal battle to free Debbie Peagler, who spent 27 years in a California prison. Her story took an unexpected turn when Joshua Safran, an Orthodox attorney from Berkeley, and his legal associate took on her case and ultimately won her freedom in August 2009. Less than a year later, Peagler died from lung cancer.

Filming over five years, Potash documented the story as it unfolded, with exclusive access to Peagler and her attorneys.