AFI Movie Club: JUST MERCY – American Film Institute

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AFI Movie Club: JUST MERCY

Warner Bros. has made JUST MERCY free to rent on streaming platforms for all of June 2020 in response to the police brutality charges and ongoing protests surrounding the death of George Floyd and to educate viewers about systemic racism. FIND OUT WHERE TO WATCH FOR FREE.

 

JUST MERCY was showcased at the 2019 AFI FEST presented by Audi, followed by a Q&A with the film’s real-life protagonist– lawyer and social justice advocate Bryan Stevenson. The film’s director, Destin Daniel Cretton, has also served as a thesis mentor to filmmakers at the AFI Conservatory.

 

Movie Trivia about JUST MERCY

DID YOU KNOW that JUST MERCY is based on the book by lawyer and social justice advocate Bryan Stevenson? Stevenson is the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, dedicated to ending mass incarceration, excessive punishment and racial inequality in the U.S.? Learn more about the Initiative here.

DID YOU KNOW that many of Michael B. Jordan’s speeches in the film were taken directly from transcripts of Bryan Stevenson in the actual courtroom, defending Walter McMillian, an innocent man held on death row for six years?

DID YOU KNOW that Destin Daniel Cretton had wanted to work with Jamie Foxx long before casting him in JUST MERCY? Cretton said, “I think he’s a phenomenal performer, in every way. To be able to work with him, I just felt like an audience member with a front row seat to his performance.”

DID YOU KNOW that part of the reason Jamie Foxx connected with his character of Walter McMillian was because his own father had served seven years in prison for $25 worth of an illegal substance?

DID YOU KNOW this film marks the third collaboration between director Destin Daniel Cretton and actress Brie Larson? They previously worked together on SHORT TERM 12 and THE GLASS CASTLE.

DID YOU KNOW that JUST MERCY was the first movie Michael B. Jordan made with an Inclusion Rider? As one of the producers who advocated for one, Jordan said of his time making the film, “It looked and felt like a set that I’ve always wanted to have.”

DID YOU KNOW that JUST MERCY won four NAACP Awards? It was recognized for Outstanding Motion Picture, Best Actor (Michael B. Jordan), Best Supporting Actor (Jamie Foxx) and Best Ensemble Cast.

DID YOU KNOW that Bryan Stevenson was also the subject of a documentary in 2019? TRUE JUSTICE: BRYAN STEVENSON’S FIGHT FOR EQUALITY had its world premiere as the opening night film of AFI DOCS 2019.

Learn more at the AFI Catalog.

 

The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Family-friendly Discussion Questions

Join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram now using #AFIMovieClub. Or post your responses in the comment section below.

-What did you think of Jamie Foxx and Michael B. Jordan’s performances as Walter McMillian and Bryan Stevenson, respectively?

-How did racial profiling, the suppression of evidence and jury tampering impact the outcome of Walter McMillian’s trial? Do you believe those practices were – or are – limited to this trial?

-The U.S. is one of the only Western nation that still applies capital punishment. How did the case of Herbert Richardson – a psychologically troubled former Vietnam veteran on Death Row – make you feel about the use of the death penalty?

-Which details of Walter McMillian’s case were the most challenging for you to accept? Was it difficult to believe that this really happened?

-Do you believe, as Bryan Stevenson does, that we are more than the worst thing we have ever done? How do we reconcile that with our current justice system?

-How can we hold our criminal justice system accountable when people who are tasked with serving our communities instead abuse their power?

-What’s one tangible step we all can take to become more engaged in our communities and help reform our justice system?

-Did Walter McMillian get “justice”? Should wrongfully convicted prisoners be compensated if a ruling is overturned?

-How would you rate JUST MERCY?

 

In this exclusive AFI Archive video, Equal Justice Initiative Co-Founder Bryan Stevenson participates in a Q&A following a screening of JUST MERCY at the 2019 AFI FEST:

New to AFI Movie Club? Want to learn more?

AFI has created a global, virtual gathering of those who love the movies. Each day’s film is accompanied by fun facts, family-friendly discussion points and material from the AFI Archive to enrich your viewing experience.

Learn more in our FAQ section.

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