On June 17, 2015, national headlines blazed the story: Churchgoers gunned down during prayer service in Charleston, South Carolina. After a 21-year-old white supremacist opened fire in Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, nine African Americans lay dead, leaving their families and the nation to grapple with this senseless act of terror.
Featuring intimate interviews with survivors and family members, Emanuel, from Executive Producers Stephen Curry and Viola Davis, & Co-Producer Mariska Hargitay, is a poignant story of justice and faith, love and hate, examining the healing power of forgiveness.
With a 100% rating on the movie critique website, Rotten Tomatoes, Emanuel was lauded by critics when it came out:
“Emanuel achieves a rich solemnity in honoring lives ripped away too soon and often quickly forgotten by a public all too often redirected by the news cycle toward another mass shooting.”
(October 18, 2019, Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times)
“Emanuel is a tribute to those who lost loved ones, but it’s also a movie with a message, one that emphasizes some survivors and family members’ willingness to forgive Roof just mere days after he walked into their church.”
(October 11, 2019, Monica Castillo, TheWrap)
Ben Kenigsberg, of the New York Times writes that “Emanuel is primarily an act of bearing witness that does not ask to be judged on conventional filmmaking terms.” (Emanuel Review: Race, Religion, Thoughts and Prayers, October 10, 2019). He further describes the film:
“At a time when news of each new mass shooting vanishes all too quickly from headlines, Emanuel offers a memorial. The director Brian Ivie weaves in a bit of the history about Charleston, a hub of the slave trade, and about churchgoing as a symbol of independence for African-Americans after the Civil War.
Initially, it seems like a mistake for the movie to introduce the shooter Dylann Roof, a white supremacist, onscreen. He is seen only in archival footage, but why not keep the focus on the nine people, all of whom were black, he killed? Then the film shows that, at Roof’s bond hearing less than 48 hours after the shooting, some of the bereaved — like Nadine Collier, whose mother was killed — began to offer expressions of forgiveness for him. The film argues that these expressions were not submissive (as some critics have claimed), but demonstrations of courage and grace.
This film, headlining at this year’s virtual Chesapeake Film Festival (October 1, 9 am EDT- October 4, 12 pm EDT) is highly impactful and considered a tour de force in documentary movie-making. You can experience the best in independent filmmaking from the U.S. and around the world in the 2020 Virtual Chesapeake Film Festival. Watch any or all of the 45 films FOR FREE as the Chesapeake Film Festival’s gift to communities coping with CoVid 19.
Donations and sponsorships are appreciated. The Chesapeake Film Festival is a 501 c3 charitable organization.
Check chesapeakefilmfestival.com for more information or call Nancy Tabor, Executive Director at 443-955-9144.
The Chesapeake Film Festival is generously supported by the Shared Earth Foundation, Maryland Film Office, Maryland State Arts Council, Talbot County Arts Council, Talbot County Department of Tourism, Artistic Insights Fund, Richard and Beverly Tilghman, Karen and Langley Shook, U.S. Small Business Administration, Talbot CARES Small Business Grant and The Ravenal Foundation. Funding has also been provided to the Chesapeake Film Festival from Maryland Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as part of the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020.