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Clemency

Rated Parental Guidance (Coarse Language, Violence) ~ Runs 113 minutes

Dir.: Chinonye Chukwu, US, 2019

Alfre Woodard, Aldis Hodge, Wendell Pierce

Sundance Festival Winner, Grand Jury prize

“The unthinkably tough job of a prison warden who oversees executions is the subject of this delicate drama from writer/director Chinonye Chukwu. Inspired by a true story, Clemency follows in the weary footsteps of Woodard’s Bernadine Williams, whom we meet as she’s supervising the lethal injection of a death row inmate whose procedure goes awry... Shortly thereafter, execution looms for another inmate, Anthony Woods, convicted of killing a policeman, and we watch as Bernadine’s longtime, steely dedication to her job begins to fray and unravel her marriage. Woodard gives a masterful performance (one in a career of many) as a woman in a position of relative power whose views on the morality of capital punishment aren’t allowed to come into play. She can only enforce the rules and treat her inmates as humanely as possible before supervising their deaths, a procedure that is clearly eroding her internally. Chukwu’s screenplay follows Bernadine as the quiet, often inscrutable center of the hurricane of public opinion raging around Woods, who has become a media focus, but the rest of the cast is excellent, too. Hodge speaks volumes when he’s simply sitting wordlessly in his cell. Richard Schiff, as Anthony’s lawyer, is the public voice of capital punishment opposition as he pursues a last-minute pardon from the state. And Danielle Brooks (Orange Is the New Black) is heartbreaking in a single scene as Woods’ visiting ex. Clemency is remarkable for the understanding it affords to all involved with its wrenching subject matter.” - Sara Stewart, The New York Post



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February 23