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Synopsis

Life can change in the blink of an eye…

An American Life: The Journey from Violence to Hope is a film about the power of brotherhood. Four ordinary men make extraordinary life changing choices. Now they must each learn to make the most of their own disturbing fates.

In 1996, David Kaczynski turns in his mentally ill brother Theodore to authorities for fear the “Unabomber” will strike again. David works with authorities helping to solve the most notorious criminal case in U.S. history. Despite giving away the million dollar reward to victim families, David cannot sleep. Filled with guilt and grief, the Buddhist practitioner must now save his older brother from Federal prosecutors mounting a case to take Ted's life. Though given life without parole, the story doesn't end here. David is compelled to share with countless others how a Federal criminal justice system betrayed itself. He leads a campaign to abolish the death penalty in New York State.

In 1980, Bill Babbitt believes his brother Manny, a decorated Viet Nam war veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, is responsible for the death of an elderly Sacramento woman. Bill hands brother Manny to authorities who promise to seek help for Manny’s illness. Bill, an African American, never imagined that seventeen years later he’d have to watch his brother’s execution by lethal injection as a result of placing trust in a system that he trusted and supports. He contemplates suicide, but chooses life instead, to honor his condemned sibling’s wish to, “Take the high road, Brother Billy.”

In 1986, a bomb detonates in the hand of a Salt Lake City software business owner, turning his flesh to a bloody mess and world upside down in a millisecond. Nine years later, and after numerous reconstructive surgeries, Gary Wright, discovers that the Unabomber was responsible for his wounds and the haunting fear that someone wanted him dead. After much soul searching, Gary, confronts Ted Kaczynski face to face during the federal sentencing hearing, and forgives him.

On April 22, 1995, Bud Welch claims the dead body of his only daughter Julie from the rubble of the Oklahoma City Bombing. Feeling powerless and broken, he turns to drinking and contemplates suicide. He travels to meet the father of his daughter’s killer, and discovers an even bigger victim than himself. Bud realizes that killing Timothy McVeigh would never heal his pain.

Through these men’s challenging life experiences, An American Journey, not only evokes the need to mend and restore our humanity whenever it is torn by acts of violence, it offers direction in solving some of the most troubling difficulties of our time.