Love Lived on Death Row
Cinematographer: Linda Booker
Edited by: Linda Booker
Original Music by: Hans Stiritz
"Love Lived on Death Row" tells the story of the four Syriani siblings whose father was sentenced to die for the murder of their mother in 1990 and Meg Eggleston, who became their father's friend and spiritual advisor through letters to him in prison.
Orphaned and estranged, the Syriani children raised themselves while they lived with hate, anger and confusion as the man they could only refer to as 'Him Him' lived on death row. But in 2004, they collectively decided to visit him in prison, seeking answers so they could move on with their adult lives.
What transpired that day was a miracle of forgiveness followed by a journey of healing, restoring family memories and then a battle for his clemency.
"The best part of Love Lived on Death Row is Booker's ability to capture a depth of human love and forgiveness that leaves the viewer both teary-eyed and joyfully hopeful about the human potential to do good."
-Patrick O'Neill, The Independent Weekly
The documentary follows the Syriani sibling's remarkable journey from hate to love for their father sentenced to die for the murder of their mother and the friendship between their father and his pen-pal and spiritual advisor Meg. The Syriani's story of reconciliation and forgiveness gained international attention when they appeared on Good Morning America and the Larry King Show during their fight for his clemency in the autumn of 2005.
Rose, Sarah, John and Janet Syriani were only children when their father Elias Syriani was sentenced to death for the murder of their mother Teresa in 1990. Although their lives were shattered by tragic domestic violence and loss, they formed a strong bond, raised themselves and became strong individuals despite the odds.
But after living with confusion and hate for their father for over a decade, they decided to visit and confront the man they had cut out of their lives. The unbelievable outcome of that visit to Raleigh's Central Prison is told through their interviews and it would be the beginning of a miraculous restoration of a family and their memories.
As the primary victims of the crime, and the family of the man being executed, their story received national press and appearances on Good Morning America and the Larry King Show.
The Syrianis attribute the friendship and spiritual guidance that Meg Eggleston, an outgoing grandmother of six, gave to their father as an important part of the reconciliation and forgiveness process. Inspired by Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking, Meg began writing letters to Elias Syriani five years ago and as friends they shared letters and stories about their faith, families and lives.
The true test of their friendship came when Elias asked Meg if she would witness and support him the night of his execution.
"Love Lived on Death Row" is much more than an incredible story of how violence tore a family apart and then their amazing reconciliation. It is a story of surviving tragic loss, transformation, friendship, family bonds, faith and how capital punish-ment affects family members of death row inmates.
"Love Lived on Death Row" is a fiscally sponsored project of the Southern Documentary Fund (SDF) a non-profit organization that encourages the production of documentary projects about the American South and by documentary artists living in the region.