Long Shot proves that some exoneration stories do have immediate happy endings. Regardless, the fact these situations occur is incredulously problematic. The likes of Making a Murderer and Time: The Kalief Browder Story proves one thing; life is all about being in the right place at the right time. Long Shot’s message is perhaps that. The fact is, Juan Catalan was extremely lucky and this documentary, that provides a series of TV footage and unused camera shots, is almost an insult to the justice system.
Juan Catalan was accused of murdering a 16-year-old. One witness described a gentleman with a moustache and hair below the bottom lip. Fortunately for Juan, he was at a baseball game, but what is even more providential is that HBO was recording a TV series at that time. Considering that this documentary is only forty-minutes long, it gets a lot of information transferred to the viewer fairly quickly. It celebrates coincidence and the ridiculousness of evidence that the police live off. Long Shot bares the hallmarks of a human near-disaster.
The title has a double meaning, one that I will not delve into – that you can find out for yourself. One of the meanings is that the lawyer closely involved had a very low chance of proving Juan’s innocence. A stadium packed with thousands of people is not an easy place to spot an unlucky observer watching the game using a variety of cameras. Nor is it easy to convince HBO to provide reels of footage when their series is not yet aired. The fact is, Long Shot proves that the justice system in place can solely rely on luck. Justice involves proving innocence as well as guilt.
Despite its light-hearted approach, it reminds viewers that there are obvious flaws in the way the system deals with the more brutal cases. There is the need for an immediate conclusion for the investigators. That pressure appears to be part of the problem, and the interrogation techniques, proven across many features, shows that it only works in one favour, and that is to try to prove guilt, not innocence. Long Shot is a slap in the face to traditional methods. Whilst I genuinely believe in justice, millions of guilty criminals going to prison do not make up for the several that are genuinely innocent.
For a short documentary, Netflix Original Long Shot is worth the watch, even if it does not provide the tantalising mystery that we are so used to. It is actually relieving to witness a story where common sense prevailed. This documentary is nowhere near perfect but it provides the salient point that life is too short.
Oh, and remember each and every day that interrogations by the police are never in your favour.
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Daniel Hart is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has operated as Editor-in-Chief since 2017.