About this project
HOW DID JAMES CHASSE DIE?
On September 17, 2006, James Chasse, a shy and gentle man with schizophrenia, was tackled by three police officers in front of dozens of eyewitnesses on a downtown street corner in Portland, Oregon.
He was not suspected of a crime, nor had he committed one.
Eyewitnesses report the officers used "knees to the chest, punches to the face" and a Taser to subdue Chasse. He was handcuffed and lost consciousness for several moments. Eyewitnesses feared he was dead.
Paramedics arrived to the scene, but police neglected to share the extent of their violent struggle with Chasse, or his loss of consciousness. Chasse was then hogtied and - in the words of eyewitnesses - carried away “like and shot deer,” loaded into the back of a police car and taken to the police station, not a nearby hospital.
Jail nurses refused to admit Chasse due to the extent of his injuries, and demanded he be taken to a hospital. Rather than going to one of three emergency rooms within two miles, the officers who beat him started to drive Chasse to an emergency room six miles away.
En route, officers noticed Chasse had slumped over in the backseat. They pulled over and attempted CPR, but it was too late. Ninety minutes after the police tackled him, James Chasse died.
The autopsy reports Chasse had suffered 17 broken ribs, a separated shoulder, a punctured lung, and numerous bruises and contusions. At the scene of the struggle, police told on-lookers that Chasse was homeless and had 14 felony convictions for selling cocaine. Not true: Chasse had no criminal record, and lived in an apartment just a few blocks away.
THE FILM Alien Boy: the Death and Life of James Chasse is a feature-length documentary film that:
* Examines the events of Sept. 17, 2006; * Explores the impact and meaning of James Chasse’s death; * Asks questions about how we as a society treat those with mental illness.
The film takes a deep look at Chasse’s life, uncovering his suburban childhood, participation in Portland’s early punk rock scene, the teenage onset of his schizophrenia, the peeling away of friendships and opportunities as his illness progressed into his adulthood, and his ability to carve out an independent existence despite his mental illness.
BUT WE NEED YOUR HELP!
The documentary film Alien Boy: the Death and Life of James Chasse is a project of the Mental Health Association of Portland. All donations are tax deductible, and all revenue generated by the film goes to support the nonprofit advocacy organization.
YOUR CONTRIBUTION HELPS
Our final post-production budget is $12,500. This will go to sound composing, engineering and mixing, still image recording, promotional artwork and printing, DVD reproduction, web site development, music rights, film festival submission fees and travel to festivals.
WHO’S MAKING ALIEN BOY?
The director for Alien Boy is Brian Lindstrom, who has made two other feature length documentaries, Kicking, about drug detoxification in Portland, and Finding Normal, about recovery from drug addiction, also made in Portland.
Charlie Campbell composed the score and select additional music for the film. Charlie is a semi-retired rock musician most famous for fronting the band Pond. He now creates music for TV and movies, including Full Grown Men and Winter's Passing.
Andrew Saunderson is Alien Boy's Co-Editor and Associate Producer. He joined the production team in 2008 while a student at Lewis & Clark College and quickly established himself as indispensable. He was Assistant Editor on the feature-length documentary To Pay My Way With Stories (2009) and the award-winning narrative/documentary hybrid Old Town Diary (2010).
Thank you for your support.
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