Clemency with director Chinonye Chukwu
On international Human Rights Day, a screening of the Sundance winning film Clemency (2019) is followed by a live Q&A with the film's writer and director, Chinonye Chukwu, and Hammer Museum curatorial assistant Ikechukwu Onyewuenyi. Clemency features acclaimed actor Alfre Woodard as a prison warden wrecked by the emotional toll that comes with administering the death penalty. While the subject of death as a form of justice has divided the United States for years, the return of federal executions in July 2020 after a 17-year hiatus underscores the need to discuss and imagine alternatives to capital punishment at both the federal and state level. The timeliness of Clemency lies not only in how it mourns the loss of lives to state-sanctioned violence, but also in how the film illuminates the personal and societal costs of capital punishment as a tool of dehumanization.
Chukwu is the first Black woman to win the Sundance Film Festival's Grand Jury Prize with Clemency. She is slated to direct a feature film about Emmett Till's murder and to direct A Taste of Power, an adaptation of the memoir former Black Panther leader Elaine Brown.