Though the primary purpose of films is to entertain, it can also be used to make a statement and inform the masses on important issues throughout history.
2019’s Just Mercy was certainly touted as a film that accomplished as much. In June, Warner Bros. Pictures decided to make the critically acclaimed film available to the public for free on participating digital platforms to honor the late George Floyd, who was killed by police officer Derek Chauvin.
“We believe in the power of story,” Warner Bros. wrote in a statement. “Our film Just Mercy, based on the life work of civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson, is one resource we can humbly offer to those who are interested in learning more about the systemic racism that plagues our society. For the month of June, Just Mercy will be available to rent for free across digital platforms in the US.”
As IndieWire reports:
Warner Bros. opened Just Mercy in theaters last Christmas after world premiering the drama at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival. Michael B. Jordan stars as Bryan Stevenson, a defense attorney appealing the wrongful murder conviction of an African-American man. The film also stars Jamie Foxx and Brie Larson and was directed by Short Term 12 and The Glass Castle filmmaker Destin Daniel Cretton.
Just Mercy grossed $50 million worldwide and earned Foxx a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role.
In addition to Stevenson’s long time legal work and social activism, he is also the founder/executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative. The initiative, which works “to end mass incarceration, excessive punishment and racial inequality” released an official statement regarding Floyd’s killing in May, calling for all police departments nationwide to implement former President Barack Obama’s 2015 Task Force on 21st Century Policing recommendations.
“To actively be part of the change our country is so desperately seeking, we encourage you to learn more about our past and the countless injustices that have led us to where we are today,” the statement further read. “Thank you to the artists, storytellers, and advocates who helped make this film happen. Watch with your family, friends and allies. For further information on Bryan Stevenson and his work at the Equal Justice Initiative please visit EJI.org.”