DVD Review by Kam Williams
Headline: DVD Drama Revisits Malicious Prosecution of Blacks in
On November 2, 2000, drug enforcement agents executed a sweep of the black community in the tiny town of
Nonetheless, The District Attorney aggressively pursued convictions in all of the cases, generally succeeding since most of the defendants couldn’t even afford to make bail, let alone hire a lawyer. What generally transpired was that after languishing in jail for several months while awaiting trial, many succumbed to the pressure to plead guilty to a lesser charge rather than face the possibility of a lengthy prison sentence.
In actuality, all of these unfortunate folks from the projects were victims of a state-sanctioned scheme to incarcerate innocent African-Americans. Ultimately, the ACLU would clear their names with the help of one of the defendants, an intrepid woman willing to risk incurring the wrath of the authorities by testifying against them in a lawsuit alleging malicious prosecution.
The intimate details of her ordeal is the subject of American Violet, a gripping dramatization of the events surrounding a sad tragedy which ruined many a life in Hearne. The film stars newcomer Nicole Beharie as Dee Roberts, a 24 year-old single-mother with four daughters whose life comes apart at the seams when she finds herself suddenly ensnared in a dragnet designed to rid the town of black people entirely.
In matter-of-fact fashion, this brilliant bio-pic effectively illustrates the likely fallout visited upon a law-abiding but unsophisticated person like
Excellent (4 stars)
Rated PG-13 for profanity, ethnic slurs, violence, drug references and mature themes.
Running time: 103 minutes
Studio: Image Entertainment
DVD and Blu-ray Extras: Director’s audio commentary, Telluride Film Festival interviews and a theatrical trailer.