Chinonye Chukwu’s Film “Clemency” Examines the Death Penalty

As the state of Texas this week carried out the nation’s first execution of the year, we look at Clemency, a new film starring Alfre Woodard that examines the death penalty from the perspective of those who have to carry out executions as well as the condemned. Woodard portrays prison warden Bernadine Williams as she prepares to oversee what would be her 12th execution as warden in the aftermath of one that was horribly botched. We speak with Nigerian-American writer-director Chinonye Chukwu, who says she was inspired to take on the subject after the execution of Troy Anthony Davis, who was put to death by the state of Georgia on September 21, 2011.

Transcript

AMY GOODMAN: We’re broadcasting from the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. As the state of Texas this week carried out the nation’s first execution of the year, we look at Clemency, a new film starring Alfre Woodard that examines the death penalty from the perspective of the executioners as well as the condemned. Woodard portrays prison warden Bernadine Williams as she prepares to oversee what would be her 12th execution as warden in the aftermath of one that was horribly botched. As her life seems to unravel, Williams, for the first time, grapples with what it means to be part of a system of state-sanctioned murder, as the execution date for Anthony Woods, played by Aldis Hodge, gets closer.

The Nigerian-American writer-director Chinonye Chukwu says she was inspired to take on the subject after the execution of Troy Anthony Davis, who was put to death by the state of Georgia September 21st, 2011. Davis’s execution was carried out despite major doubts about evidence used to convict him of the killing of police officer Mark MacPhail. His death helped fuel the national movement to abolish the death penalty.

Well, I sat down with Chinonye Chukwu Thursday, as the film continues to play before packed houses here at Sundance. She began by talking about why she made the film.

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