In a detailed profile on the upcoming film Just Mercy, based on the 2014 memoir of the same name by Bryan Stevenson, founder of Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), Variety delves into the making of the film and Stevenson’s background as an advocate for criminal justice reform.
In addition to the film’s impact raising up Stevenson’s story and the fight against mass incarceration, Just Mercy is making history as the first major studio film to adopt an inclusion rider, a contractual provision that mandates that women, people of color, members of the LGBTQ+ community and other underrepresented groups be considered for key on-screen and behind-the-scenes jobs. The rider was required by Michael B. Jordan, who portrays Stevenson in the film.
According to Variety, if the movie is a success, Stevenson believes it could encourage people to seek out ways they can help level the playing field for people of color in the criminal justice system.
“Look at the canon of amazing films that have been made about the Holocaust,” Stevenson said. “That means that nobody on the planet is totally unaware of what happened during that time period. I think we all have a knowledge of that. That’s not true for lynching. That’s not true for slavery. That’s not true for segregation. And it’s certainly not true for mass incarceration.”
EJI received the Changing Narratives Through Art, Keeping People Out of Jail and Prison and Shortening Sentences grants as part of the Art for Justice Fund’s Fall 2017 cohort. The film Just Mercy will have a limited release on Dec. 25, followed by a wider release in January 2020.