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director. taj rauch.
director of photography. lucky marvel.


We begin with Johnny in his old stomping grounds; the neighborhood in Philadelphia where he grew up, where he sold drugs as a teenager, and where he was wrongfully accused of murder by Tauheed Lloyd and the Philadelphia Criminal Justice Department. The audience is introduced to his wife Qiana, his aunt-like figure Ms. Debbie, and his many neighbors who are jubilant to see him finally home. This chapter delves into what Johnny's life was like before his wrongful imprisonment. Part One asks: how does one choose to live when environment breeds choice and innocence assumes perfection? 

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director. david dunnington.
director of photography. leah prather.


Part Two reveals Johnny's experience from his first day in prison as a teenager sentenced to life without parole to his last day before his release. Johnny opens up to the audience about his relationships in and outside of prison, the support of Qiana, the loss of his mother and brother, and the confession from Tauheed LLoyd that led to his eventual exoneration. Part Two asks: 

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co-directors. nick hatcher & chrissy obell.


While living through the global pandemic and American uprising of 2020, Johnny Berry found a group of filmmakers to help him share his story... all of whom were born around the time of his arrest 25 years ago. Part Four is a documentation of the process of making this film. The audience will see Johnny and the young filmmakers come together to bring his story to light, envisaging his experiences -- his staggering losses and hope for the future -- and investigating the layers of privilege at work. Ultimately, “23: The Tale of an Exoneree” will draw an intimate portrait of Johnny Berry against the backdrop of the greater system that almost ate him alive.

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director. ang bey.
director of photography. lucky marvel.


Part Three explores Johnny's emotions upon re-entering society. He illustrates how he is rebuilding his life presently and what he envisions for a reimagined justice system centered around accountability and rehabilitation rather than profit and punishment. Part Three asks: what does "freedom" look like to Johnny now and what did it look like while he was incarcerated? Can we imagine an alternative to the ravenous prison industrial complex?

By sharing Johnny's story and the devastating impact of the prison industrial complex, we hope to ignite the community to imagine a different type of justice system; join us in imagining.


After enduring 23 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, Johnny Berry was one of 14 people exonerated in 2019 by the Philadelphia DA Office's new Conviction Integrity Unit. Thrust into a society which offers him little to no resources, Johnny's disturbingly common story urges us to examine the consequences of a justice system built around profit and punishment, and challenges us to imagine a better system -- one rooted in accountability, restitution, and rehabilitation.

  • Summer 2020 - Pre-pre-pre-production began. Research, strategize, rinse, repeat.

  • Fall 2020 - The sizzle reel was completed.

  • Winter 2020 - Our website and GoFundMe went live.

  • January 2021 -  We finalized our creative team and set our sights on a docu-series format.

  • When we begin shooting: April 1st, 2021

  • Our total budget: $253,000

  • How much we need to get started: 6% of our total budget, $10,000

  • What it's for: COVID-19 testing, proper PPE, SD cards, batteries, submission fees for festivals and competitions, production insurance, fair wages, and our monthly subscription to sites where we can share our progress with you!

  • When you get to watch: January 1st, 2022

Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing or giving to this film's launch.

The Film

"To me, home represents freedom.

Home represents peace."


Meet Johnny
Play Video

Thank you to our partners.
If you would like to support

23: The Tale of an Exoneree
with an in-kind donation,
please contact us.

Marlee Gordon,

Jamaar Julal & JamBrü Ferments

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