Half Truths and Full Lies (2018)


A collaborative project between nonfiction filmmakers Tirtza Even and Meg McLagan and audio producer Elyse Blennerhassett.

Half Truths and Full Lies depicts, through documentation and reenactment, the case of Efrén Paredes Jr. a Latinx man from Michigan, who was sentenced to life without parole in 1989 at age fifteen, for a murder he claims he did not commit.

The multichannel installation takes on a Rashomon-like quality, as divergent accounts of the crime accrue, forming multiple portraits of Efren. These accounts reflect perspectives of a range of individuals, from a police detective to key witnesses from the tight-knit small town community who singled Paredes out, as well as of those whose lives–over the past 30 years–were most affected by the teen’s conviction: family members, teachers, and citizens who sat in judgment as jury members.

Half Truths and Full Lies tells a story about story; one constructed by a group of teens who appear to have conspired to set up their peer, and whose narrative played on stereotypical assumptions about racial minorities and upon which the local police and prosecutor relied. This account became the only one the public, and the jury, got to hear.

The installation, however, is also a story about a handful of alternative, untold stories, and at their center – Efren’s story of innocence. The project thus attempts to recuperate conflicting narrative possibilities, and to investigate the nature of truth-telling in both media and the law.

Cinematography and editing assistance by Yoni Goldstein; additional Camera: Steve Maing and Gonzalo Escobar