Photo credit: Kristoffer Tripplaar

“We are proud to co-host this with Neon who’s distributing the film and with Honorary co-hosts Amnesty International USA, The Vera Institute of Justice and the office of Cory Booker, Senator of the great state of New Jersey,” said Ambassador Charles Rivkin, CEO of The Motion Picture Association at a private screening of “Clemency” in Washington, DC.  “Now this movie, as many of you know, won the grand jury prize at Sundance and it’s about the challenges faced by a prison warden, in this case played by Alfre Woodard whose job is to oversee executions. So clearly, this is going to be an emotionally powerful experience.”

“I just want to say a couple of words very quickly about this incredible room that you’re sitting in as well as the mission that compels and drives the Motion Picture Association.  We work at the MPA every day to champion and promote and protect creativity and I’m proud to represent an industry that stands for free speech,” Rivkin added while introducing the film. “We stand for free expression for an ever greater diversity of stories and the people who tell those stories. It’s an incredible honor to lead an organization that never rests when it comes to defending the rights of creators everywhere – matter what stories they had to tell, no matter who they are, no matter what their religion, race or background. And I have to say as a personal note of pride that I’m incredibly thrilled that you’re here in this theater. This theater is about 70% bigger than the previous one before the renovation. It has state of the art technology for the technophiles and Dolby surround sound, which I think you’re going to hear tonight. There’s 50 speakers embedded in the walls. It is in my obviously biased opinion that this is the best place in Washington, DC to see a film and this room is our way of showcasing that.”

“I can tell we have to move beyond having to know whether or not they’re innocent,” said filmmaker Chinonye Chukwu in a discussion with The Daily Beast’s Margaret Carlson.”We should be able to fight for people regardless of innocence or guilt. We have to move beyond that. And so the challenge I pose to myself is let me construct a narrative where audiences can’t help but feel for someone they don’t know. I tried to dwell on it in a way that we haven’t dwelled on it before in American cinema. I don’t think that we’ve really seen a prison space depicted like this – that we really see the horror in the banality of the prison space and the emotional detachment. I talked to a lot of retired wardens who are very like loud, prominent anti death penalty activists. I talked to a lot of wardens who don’t want wardens at death row facilities who are very conflicted about the death row. I don’t define or judge any characters, even characters who make horrible decisions. I always start from a place of where’s there’s pain, where there is trauma.”

The Guests:

The introductions:

The Official Trailer: