Free in Deed

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    Free in Deed

    Directed by

    USA, New Zealand


    98 min

    • English


    Set in the distinctive world of storefront churches, and based on actual events, FREE IN DEED depicts one man’s attempts to perform a miracle. When a single mother brings her young boy to church for healing, this lonely pentecostal minister is forced to confront the seemingly incurable illness of the child... and his own demons as well. The more he prays, the more things seem to spiral out of his control.


    • Orizzonti Award for Best Film - Venice IFF



    Kathy Smith
    Helen Bowman
    Alex Coker
    Edwina Findley Dickerson
    Geoff Falk
    Jan Falk
    Porsha Ferguson
    David Harewood
    Preston Shannon
    Jon W. Sparks
    Jake Mahaffy
    Ava Berkofsky
    Jake Mahaffy
    Michael Taylor

    Director's Statement

    How can a man crush a child to death, while believing the entire time that he is helping him? This was the most infuriating question, according to news stories that appeared over 12 years ago about an actual faith healing gone wrong. And that’s the question that started this project... 12 long years ago. “Laying hands” on people to deliver them from any manner of affliction is a common religious practice. If they struggle or the afflicting spirits fight back, they may need to be restrained. FREE IN DEED is an ecstatic tragedy about a man with good intentions, compelled to demonstrate God’s divine love, while being completely unable to connect in any humane way with the people living around him.



    Illuminating... a deserving winner of top honors in Venice’s Horizons strand... productively provocative work.

    Guy Lodge, Variety

    Mahaffy's uncompromising approach, and the quality of its performances, make it a rare and valuable testament.

    Jessica Kiang, The Playlist

    There's a lot to like in "Free in Deed," a well-acted, unrelentingly dour experiment in atmosphere, setting and sound that will captivate you throughout.

    Tambay A. Obenson, Shadow and Act

    Jake Mahaffy

    Jake Mahaffy


    Jake Mahaffy's self-produced, micro-budget shorts and features were made single-handedly, featuring untrained actors in rural settings. More recent projects combined with professional actors and crew have also screened internationally. Venues include Sundance (2004/05/06/08/09/15), Venice (2012, 2016 & Orizzonti Prize for Best Film, 2015), and SXSW (2016, Grand Jury Prize, 2008). He founded two new filmmaking programs at two universities as an Associate Professor of Film and Art in the United States and currently coordinates the Screen Production program at Auckland University in New Zealand.

    Selected Filmography