Contact: Ellie Bernstein, (518) 465-0844; cell, (518) 810-8211
Tony Grocki, cell, (518) 466-7490

Albany, New York—— Waiting for Mercy, a documentary film about Albany’s 2004 FBI “sting” case, will premiere at the Madison Theater, 1036 Madison Avenue in Albany, on Saturday, January 17 at 7 p.m. Written, produced, and directed by local documentary filmmaker Ellie Bernstein, and co-produced by Guilderland resident Tony Grocki, Waiting for Mercy tells the story of the fabricated FBI sting operation in Albany that made international headlines in the “war on terror” and that ended with the 2006 convictions of two Albany Muslims on terrorism-related charges. After the premiere of Waiting for Mercy on January 17, there will be a brief update about the case and a question-and-answer session with Bernstein, the filmmaker.
A short documentary, Bullets in the Hood (2006), will accompany each showing of Waiting for Mercy. The short is a 22-minute film written and produced by two Brooklyn teenagers, Terrence Fisher and Daniel Howard. Bullets in the Hood documents their efforts to stop gun violence in their Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood after a friend was shot and killed by police in 2004. The film won the Special Jury Prize for short filmmaking at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival.
Waiting For Mercy will be screened each day at the Madison Theater from Friday, January 16 through Thursday, January 22 at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. In addition, special matinee screenings will be held on Friday, January 16 at 4:15 p.m., and on Saturday, January 17 and Sunday, January 18 at 12:15 p.m., 2:15 p.m., and 4:15 p.m. Admission to the film follows the Madison’s standard ticket prices: $6 for children and seniors, $7 for adults during the matinees, and $8 for the evening shows.
Waiting for Mercy opens by asking viewers a direct question: were Yassin Aref, 37, a refugee from Kurdistan in northern Iraq, and Mohammed Mosharref Hossain, 51, a United States citizen and an immigrant from Bangladesh, really terrorists, or were they set up? Using some of the actual material recorded over many months by the FBI informant (a Pakistani criminal) and featuring footage and interviews with defense lawyers, prosecutors, journalists, community advocates, and Muslim community members, Waiting for Mercy explores what Bernstein calls the “broader issues” raised by the case, including warrantless wiretapping, secret evidence, entrapment, and the targeting of Muslims.

Director Ellie Bernstein is a filmmaker and technical writer who moved to Albany in early 2007 after the Aref-Hossain trial to work on Waiting for Mercy. Her first film, Closing the Open Door: The Fight for a College Education, explored the 30-year struggle at City University of New York for minority access to college. It is in the Donnell branch of the New York Public Library’s collection of political documentaries and is distributed through the Cinema Guild. In 2001, Bernstein began work on another film, We Are Still Standing, about the world’s largest grassroots women’s peace group, Women in Black, started by Jewish women in Israel in 1988. The film will be completed in 2010.
Co-producer and editor Tony Grocki worked in New York City for 15 years before moving to the Capital District. He has worked on feature films with directors Jim Jarmusch, Abel Ferrara, and the Coen Brothers, and was associate editor of Affliction, directed by Paul Schrader, which won an Academy Award for James Coburn. In 2005, Grocki was producer of, and editor for, UnCivil Liberties, a feature directed by Tom Mercer that explores what can go wrong when the government abuses the privacy rights of citizens.

Showtime schedule:
Friday, January 16: 4:15 p.m., 7 p.m., 9:30 p.m.
Premiere, Saturday, January 17: 7 p.m.
Saturday, January 17 and Sunday, January 18: 12:15 p.m., 2:15 p.m., 4:15 p.m., 7 p.m., 9:30 p.m.
Monday, January 19 through Thursday, January 22: 7 p.m., 9:30 p.m.

Waiting for Mercy trailer:
Bullets in the Hood website and trailer:
Madison Theater website: