Films have always reflected prevailing attitudes about law, lawyers and the legal system. But some legal scholars, like Richard Sherwin, argue that contemporary films, whether feature films, documentaries or docudramas, unduly influence legal culture as well. "Real legal issues and controversies give rise to popular legal representations just as popular legal representations help to inform and shape real legal issues and case outcomes" (Sherwin, 2000). This is particularly true of documentary or nonfiction films. The prominence and availability of documentary films on political issues during the 2004 presidential election raises interesting questions about the impact of film on democratic institutions and democracy in general.
During this day and a half symposium law professors, filmmakers, film critics and film industry officials will discuss some of these questions and explore other issues related to the impact of film on law, lawyers and the legal system.
This Program is funded in part by a generous grant from the France-Merrick Foundation to the University of Maryland School of Law's Linking Law & the Arts Series.