So far, Lee Daniels’ output as a filmmaker has been fairly impressive. As a producer, he oversaw the Oscar winning ‘Monster’s Ball,’ as well as the controversial drama ‘The Woodsman.’ As a director, he’s survived two missteps (‘Shadowboxer’ and ‘The Paperboy‘) to craft two crowd and critic pleasing near-classics: ‘Precious’ and ‘Lee Daniels’ The Butler.’
Now he’s decided to take on yet another outrageous case of injustice, this time centering around an infamous NFL case. Brian Banks was a hot prospect coming into the 2002 high school football season. After verbally committing to USC, his dreams of playing professional ball were instantly dashed when he was accused of rape by a classmate.
Hoping to avoid a scandal – and a lengthy trial – Banks was coerced into agreeing to a plea bargain. With his “no contest” came a six year sentence, which he served more than five of. He also was given five years probation and, under California Law, had to register with the State as a sex offender.
Upon his release, Banks met up with his accuser and secretly taped her making it clear that she had fabricated the whole thing. With said testimony, and the help of the California Innocence Project, his conviction was overturned in 2012. He went on to play ball at with the Las Vegas Locomotives of the UFL after several tryouts with NFL teams. He eventually made it on the Atlanta Falcons 2013 squad before being cut at the end of preseason.
So why would Daniels want to make a movie on this subject? Well, something Banks’ attorney said seems to set up a theme quite nicely. When questioned about taking the plea, the lawyer said, “When you go into that courtroom, the jury is going to see a big black teenager and you’re automatically going to be assumed guilty.” Bingo! Race in America, one of the filmmaker’s favorite causes. In the piece on The Wrap discussing this project, producer Amy Baer added further clarification:
“Lee is a filmmaker who looks at challenging circumstances with honesty, compassion, and hope. He has an emotional connection to Brian’s story that I’m certain will result in a powerful and redemptive film. I’m thrilled to be partnered with him.”
As for Banks, he seconds that emotion:
“All I ever wanted was to prove my innocence. Telling my story in the form of a feature film is beyond my wildest dreams. Having Lee Daniels come on board to direct the film is so exciting, and such an honor.”
It think that about says it all.
Source: The Wrap