Clemency

Director: Chinonye Chukwu
Screenwriters: Chinonye Chukwu

Institute History

  • 2019 Sundance Film Festival

Description

How do you salvage your marriage when you are struggling to salvage your soul, your sense of self, and your sense of right and wrong? Bernadine Williams (Alfre Woodard) is a prison warden who, over the years, has been drifting away from her husband while dutifully carrying out executions in a maximum security prison. When she strikes up a unique bond with death-row inmate Anthony Woods (Aldis Hodge), a layer of emotional skin is peeled back, forcing Bernadine to confront the complex—and often contradictory—relationship between good intentions, unrequited desires, and what it means to be sanctioned to kill.

Clemency is an absorbing and penetrating character study that pulls into deep focus the various ways in which people facing impossible ethical circumstances strive to achieve some state of grace. Director Chinonye Chukwu crafts a dense, emotional film through masterful restraint and precision, drawing forth radiant performances that illuminate the internal grapplings of people searching for redemption and self-recognition. A rare, sensitive, and deeply observant prison drama, Clemency offers a fresh and meaningful contribution to the genre.

— S.F.

Screening Details

Sundance Film Festival Awards

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