"Watching Writ Writer, viewers experience its seamless, methodical, gripping pace, which seems pitch perfect for the story it narrates - of human degradation, cunning and courage, triumph, and personal tragedy. The documentary should engage young people and adults alike. Writ Writer shows how one person can use the courage of his humanity and the resources of the law to make a difference."
American Bar Association
"…Writ Writer presents an extraordinary portrait of a brave and indefatigable man who stood up to insurmountable odds. Highly recommended."
P. Hall, Video Librarian
"The film is a brutal, revealing look at the Texas prison system as well as an inspiring portrait of human endurance."
"Writ Writer, a profound film of sociological relevance, masterfully weaves together interviews (with former prison officials, ex-convicts who served time with Cruz, and legal professionals), official records, historical black and white footage of the prison system, and narration adapted from Cruz's diary."
Rebecca L. Bordt, DePauw University, Teaching Sociology
“…riveting… …chronicle of how one inmate… significantly improved conditions in prisons and furthered the rights of those who inhabit them.”
David Yas, Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly
"A captivating, no-nonsense documentary about Cruz's legal battles.…"
Gabrielle Banks, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"Susanne Mason’s Writ Writer is a remarkable, heart-breaking, and empowering triumph. Merging extensive archival footage from the Texas prison system in the late-1960s, interviews with former prison guards, TDC officials, and prisoners, and woven together with gorgeous photographs and an original score, the documentary tells the story of Fred Cruz, the crusading jailhouse lawyer who forced the TDC to finally uphold the U.S. Constitution. When is the last time you saw a political documentary that left you crying because of its heart-breaking love story? When is the last time you saw a political documentary that left you wondering "how the hell did they get that footage?" or "how did they get that interviewee to say that on camera?" For those viewers interested in the history of prison brutality, or the history of the complicated relationship between state prison systems and the U.S. Constitution, or how brave individuals have struggled for justice in the face of overwhelming oppression, Writ Writer is a must see. Not since the award-winning Mario’s Story have I been so moved by a prison-based documentary."
Stephen J. Harnett, PhD, University of Colorado
“…a sympathetic yet unsentimental portrait of a man who almost single-handedly changed the way Texas prisons operate...” -
Josh Rosenblatt, The Austin Chronicle
"This is the fascinating story of a prisoner who was brave enough (and crazy enough) to defend the Constitutional rights of Texas prisoners in the 1960s. Forty plus years later it's as relevant as ever, and Fred Cruz is the kind of hero we all wish we would be in the same circumstances. A brave, unwavering force, and fascinating in spite of his flaws."
Richard Linklater, filmmaker
“My wife and I watched it … mesmerized . It is truly powerful, an amazing story, both inspiring and heartbreaking.”
Howard Zinn, PhD
“…Cruz’s story is by turns tragic and inspiring… … And Cruz became a model for subsequent jailhouse lawyers, prisoners who find the official legal system inadequate, distracted, or corrupted, and so must devise their own means to make themselves heard. As much as the film raises up Cruz’s activities as heroic and his energies as frankly brilliant, the broader problems remain. When at last he was released, he found it hard to resist his past or to live with the trauma he endured in prison…”
Cynthia Fuchs, PhD, George Mason University for www.popmatters.com
“…an unlikely—and sometimes heartrending—tale about prisoners’ lives…”
Carlos Guerra, San Antonio Express News
“…a concise and compelling documentary… Writ Writer is a story about beating the odds and making a difference, but its subtext is decidedly sobering. After all, this is the tale of an amazing man who only found his purpose in life when he was behind bars — and then lost it again upon his release. Writ Writer also documents how easily a free society can discard its own fundamental principles.”
Tom Jacobs, www.miller-mccune.com
“… through accounts from friends, family, and former prison guards and wardens, Mason managed to weave a story about much more than Cruz’s struggle.”
Texas Bar Journal
“A gripping tale of a jailhouse lawyer who made a difference. Lawyers will enjoy the portion of the film in which a lawyer emerges as a hero. Frances Jalet made it her mission to represent Texas inmates in an effort to reform prison conditions. She and Cruz quickly formed an alliance of sorts and slowly began effecting change in the system, claim by claim.… Suddenly we have a love to story to ponder…”
David Yas, Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly
“Combining interviews with friends, associates and adversaries with a narration based on Mr. Cruz's prison journals, letters, legal writings and transcripts of his court appearances, Mason creates a detailed portrait of not just the man, but the times that shaped him.”
Tom Maurstad, The Dallas Morning News
“The film’s first person narration is beautifully adapted from Cruz’s own writings. …a powerful story about one of the most important and under-recognized American civil rights heroes.” …
“…gives a compelling and unflinching look at the prison system in the ‘60s, when a warden’s typical discipline methodology was “if you beat one, you control 100.”
Christine Granados, Newspaper Tree
“In this documentary, the wardens, convicts, and former prisoners who were closest to Cruz during this period offer their impressions of the man who took his fate into his own hands while standing up for the rights of prisoners everywhere.”
Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide, msn.com
“…a powerful and inspiring documentary…”
Ramón Rentería, El Paso Times