January 17, 2020

The Motion Picture Association joined the Vera Center for Justice, Amnesty International, and Senator Cory Booker’s office to host a screening and discussion of the recently released NEON film Clemency.

The film focuses on prison warden Bernadine Williams, and the psychological and emotional toll of the death row executions she has had to carry out for years. As she prepares for another execution and engages with the man she is sanctioned to kill, Bernadine comes to grips with those personal issues.

Following the screening, Clemency director Chinonye Chukwu sat down with The Daily Beast’s Margaret Carlson for a deeper dive into the making of the film and the themes discussed within.

“I was inspired to write and direct this the morning after Troy Davis was executed in 2011,” Chukwu said during their conversation. “I [also] dedicated about four-and-a-half years of my life working on 14 clemency cases, and teaching women who are incarcerated how to make their own short films from script to screen, and speaking with a lot of people who were on death row or serving life sentences. And I just tapped into some of… their emotional experiences that they shared with me.”

Chukwu added that she hoped “this film could really inspire people to see the humanities that exist within prison spaces; to hopefully not define people by their worst possible acts.”

Learn more about Clemency here.

Featured photo: Director Chinonye Chukwu talks with journalist Margaret Carlson at a screening of “Clemency” at the Motion Picture Association headquarters in Washington, D.C., January 17, 2020. (Photo credit: Kristoffer Tripplaar)