Public Defender

48 mins


Heather Shaner, a feisty, blue-haired public defender in Washington, D.C., has spent 40 years representing people who can’t afford a lawyer. On Jan. 6, 2021, Shaner’s empathy hits a limit when a violent mob supporting outgoing President Donald Trump storms the Capitol to stop the peaceful transfer of power to President-elect Joe Biden. She wants nothing to do with the alleged criminals until she gets a call from The Federal Defender’s office asking her to represent some of the rioters. Forced to reconcile her fear and anger with her belief in the right to a fair trial, Shaner accepts a caseload of nonviolent offenders and is surprised when her disdain for the rioters eases. Using humor and comic relief, Public Defender takes on America’s epidemic of division and misinformation, showing how to restore trust and accountability one conversation at a time.

Production Team

Andrea Kalin

Film Contact

Festival Screenings

Featured in the 2024 Mountainfilm Festival.

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Pulitzer Center

The Pulitzer Center has a bold vision: to be the venue for the world’s most innovative and consequential reporting, with journalism as the key element for mobilizing society through audience engagement strategies. We believe that people and communities who actively engage with systemic challenges will find solutions together.

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Colorado State Library Book Drive

Join the filmmakers in their impact campaign to collect gently used paperbacks to enhance the lives of incarcerated individuals, juveniles, veterans and others throughout the state. Bring your books to the screenings of PUBLIC DEFENDER or drop them off at Mountainfilm's hospitality center. Join us in turning pages into pathways!

Learn More about Colorado State Library Book Drive
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