San Francisco lost not just a crusader of social and criminal justice in the death of Public Defender Jeff Adachi but a documentary filmmaker with his own IMDb page.
Adachi, who died at age 59 in February, made three feature-length documentaries and two short films that capture his life’s work. His 2006 film The Slanted Screen — narrated by Lost actor Daniel Dae Kim — and 2009’s You Don’t Know Jack: The Jack Soo Story tackled Hollywood’s emasculating portrayals of Asian men. More recently, 2016’s short America Needs a Racial Facial tackles race, 2017’s Defender chronicled him representing a client, and November’s Ricochet went behind-the-scenes of the Kate Steinle trial.
On April 3, the Roxie Theater screens 2002’s Presumed Guilty: Tales of the Public Defenders, one of his first forays into film. Made with KQED, it captures a year in the life of Adachi, his clients, and staff battling the criminal-justice system. The Roxie will also screen Racial Facial.
All ticket proceeds go toward Jeff Adachi Legacy Fund, a scholarship fund for law students focused on criminal defense or racial justice. Deputy public defenders Phoenix Streets and Rebecca Young, with additional Public Defender’s Office staff will take questions from the audience after the screening.
The San Francisco Public Library also screened Presumed Guilty and Racial Facial earlier this month. Adachi often worked with the Center for Asian American Media, which promised a special program to honor Adachi in the future.
“The news of Jeff Adachi’s death shocked all of us who had grown accustomed to Jeff’s tireless energy and boundless joy for the work of the SF Public Defender’s office, for the Asian American community, and for the craft of documentary film,”said CAAM Executive Director Stephen Gong. “His untimely passing saddens and hurts all of us whose lives were brightened and made better by this remarkable community leader and gifted filmmaker.”
Presumed Guilty: Tales of the Public Defenders, Wednesday, April 3, 6:30 p.m., with a Q&A with the Public Defender’s Office staff, $15, at the Roxie Theater, 3117 16th Street, roxie.com