|Directed by||Tim Disney|
|Produced by||Bill Haney|
|Written by||Bill Haney|
|Starring|| Nicole Beharie |
Tim Blake Nelson
Charles S. Dutton
|Music by||Teddy Castellucci|
|Edited by||Nancy Richardson|
|Distributed by|| Samuel Goldwyn Films |
American Violet is a 2008 American drama film directed by Tim Disney and starring Nicole Beharie.The story is based on Regina Kelly, a victim of Texas police drug enforcement tactics.
Set in the midst of the 2000 presidential election, American Violet tells the story of a young mother named Dee Roberts (Nicole Beharie), a 24-year-old African-American single mother of four living in the town of Melody (based on Hearne, Texas).
One day, while Dee is working a shift at the local diner, the powerful local district attorney, Calvin Beckett (Michael O'Keefe), leads a group into the restaurant, sweeping Dee's housing project. The police drag Dee from work in handcuffs and dump her in the women's county prison. Indicted based on the uncorroborated word of a single and dubious police informant facing his own drug charges, Dee soon discovers she has been charged as a drug dealer.
Even though Dee has no prior drug record and no drugs were found on her in the raid or any subsequent searches, she is offered a hellish choice: plead guilty and go home as a convicted felon or remain in prison and fight the charges, thus jeopardizing her custody and risking a long prison sentence for 18 to 24 years. Despite the urging of her mother (Alfre Woodard), and with her freedom and the custody of her children at stake, she chooses to fight the district attorney. Dee works with an ACLU attorney (Tim Blake Nelson) and a former local narcotics officer (Will Patton) to take on the Texas justice system.
The film is based on the civil rights lawsuit Regina Kelly v. John Paschall, filed on behalf of 15 African-American residents of Hearne, Texas who were indicted in November 2000 on drug charges after being rounded up in a series of drug sweeps the ACLU referred to as "paramilitary".The lawsuit accused Paschall and the South Central Texas Narcotics Task Force of conducting racially motivated drug sweeps for more than 15 years in Hearne. In 2005, the ACLU and Robertson County settled and the plaintiffs agreed to dismiss the individuals named in the suit, including Paschall. The fictional Harmon County represents Robertson County, Texas, where John Paschall was defeated for reelection in 2012. In 2016, Paschall surrendered his law license and pleaded guilty to a felony charge of misusing money that belonged to an estate for which he served as executor. He was required to spend 30 nights in jail, placed on 10 years' probation and issued a $1,000 fine. Regina Kelly continued to live in Hearne until 2009.
The film stays fairly close to the details of the actual case, although it changes all the characters' names and takes some liberties with the case's transcripts and other dialogue. The progress of the case in the film proceeds as the real case did, including the reduction of bail for the defendant, the dropping of charges, and the eventual resolution of the case, although the film makes no mention of the financial portion of the settlement.Some of the lawyers objected to the way they were portrayed. In the film, the public defender urges the character named Dee Roberts to accept a plea bargain. The actual public defender claims he never tells innocent clients to take a plea. Also, the actual lawyer who represented the District Attorney said the film was "more accurate than not," but objected to how his behavior was portrayed in the film during the deposition of the chief plaintiff. In the film, the character questions the plaintiff about her sexual history. The actual lawyer claims the questions were routine questions about her children and their fathers, and did not delve any further into the subject. Also, the film shows the DA presiding over a hearing about custody of the defendant's children. Actually, the DA was present and spoke at the hearing, but did not determine custody. The revelation during the film's climax, which led to the resolution of the case, was presented accurately, including the race of the deposing lawyer and the identity of the video witnesses, but the DA did not use the word "uppity" to describe the African-American lawyer who was deposing him. And the actual legal team for the plaintiffs was much larger, consisting of about 25 lawyers, from a private law firm, working pro bono .
American Violet holds a 75% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 59 reviews, with an average rating of 6.7/10. The website's critics consensus reads: "Though its politics are as obvious as its outcome, American Violet is an earnest docudrama about the justice system with a powerful performance from Nicole Behairie."
Clay Kane said that American Violet is "the first must-see film for African-Americans in 2009."Dr. Joy Browne of WOR Radio reviewed the film, calling it "A gem of a movie. Timely, thought-provoking, passionate, exciting. Everything you look for in a movie experience and more." Rex Reed of The New York Observer said that the film is "a rich, vibrant narrative film guaranteed to move everyone who sees it." Roger Ebert gave the film three stars and commented that "Nicole Beharie delivers a stunning performance."
Anna Nicole Smith was an American model, actress, and television personality. Smith first gained popularity in Playboy magazine when she won the title of 1993 Playmate of the Year. She modeled for fashion companies, including Guess, H&M, Heatherette and Lane Bryant.
Hearne is a city in Robertson County, Texas, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 4,459. The city is named for a family that settled in the area in the 19th century and promoted the construction of rail lines through the city.
Tenaha is a town in Shelby County, Texas, United States. The population was 1,160 at the 2010 census.
Attorney's fee is a chiefly United States term for compensation for legal services performed by an attorney for a client, in or out of court. It may be an hourly, flat-rate or contingent fee. Recent studies suggest that when lawyers charge a flat-fee rather than billing by the hour, they work less hard on behalf of clients and clients get worse outcomes. Attorney fees are separate from fines, compensatory and punitive damages, and from court costs in a legal case. Under the "American rule", attorney fees are usually not paid by the losing party to the winning party in a case, except pursuant to specific statutory or contractual rights.
Rush is a 1991 American crime drama film directed by Lili Fini Zanuck and based on a novel written by Kim Ramsey Wozencraft. It stars Jennifer Jason Leigh and Jason Patric as two cops in the 1970s who go undercover on a case. They become drug addicts themselves and, failing to get the evidence they need, use falsified evidence. The book and film are both based on the actual 1978-79 drug scandal involving the Tyler, Texas police department and Smith County, Texas Sheriff's Office and subsequent 1982 multi-jurisdictional investigation, for which the book's author and her partner were eventually convicted and sentenced to prison in Texas on perjury charges for falsifying almost 200 drug cases which resulted in 70 false arrests in the Tyler area.
Robert Leslie Shapiro is an American lawyer. He is best known for being the short-term defense lawyer of Erik Menendez in 1990, and a member of the "Dream Team" of O. J. Simpson's attorneys that successfully defended him from the charges that he murdered his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman, in 1994. He later turned to civil work and co-founded LegalZoom and RightCounsel.com, appearing in their television commercials.
Regina Annette Taylor is an American actress and playwright. She has won several awards throughout her career, including a Golden Globe Award and NAACP Image Award. In July 2017, Taylor was announced as the new Denzel Washington Endowed Chair in Theatre at Fordham University's theatre program.
Daddy's Little Girls is a 2007 American romantic comedy-drama film written and directed by Tyler Perry and produced by Perry and Reuben Cannon. The film stars Gabrielle Union and Idris Elba and was released on February 14, 2007 by Lions Gate Entertainment.
Howard Kevin Stern is an American attorney based in California. He was the domestic partner, attorney and agent of the late model Anna Nicole Smith. He became known as a co-star on Smith's 2002–2004 reality television series The Anna Nicole Show. He currently works with the Los Angeles Public Defender's Office.
Dannielynn Hope Marshall Birkhead is an American reality television personality and child model. She is the only daughter of Anna Nicole Smith and Larry Birkhead and was the focus of the Dannielynn Birkhead paternity case.
Arts and media industry trade groups, such as the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) and Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), strongly oppose and attempt to prevent copyright infringement through file sharing. The organizations particularly target the distribution of files via the Internet using peer-to-peer software. Efforts by trade groups to curb such infringement have been unsuccessful with chronic, widespread and rampant infringement continuing largely unabated.
Mikal Watts is an American attorney from San Antonio, Texas and a prolific donor to the Texas and national Democratic Party, and candidates running for office as Democrats. He formed an exploratory committee to run for Senator of Texas against incumbent John Cornyn in the 2008 U.S. Senate elections, but announced on October 23, 2007 his decision not to run.
Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825 (1994), was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that a prison official's "deliberate indifference" to a substantial risk of serious harm to an inmate violates the cruel and unusual punishment clause of the Eighth Amendment. Farmer built on two previous Supreme Court decisions addressing prison conditions, Estelle v. Gamble and Wilson v. Seiter. The decision marked the first time the Supreme Court directly addressed sexual assault in prisons.
The U.S. state of Montana has recognized same-sex marriage since a federal court ruled the state's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional on November 19, 2014. It had previously denied marriage rights to same-sex couples by statute since 1997 and in its State Constitution since 2004. The state appealed the ruling to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, but before that court could hear the case, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down all same-sex marriage bans in the country, mooting any remaining appeals.
Nicole Beharie is an American actress. She is best known for her starring roles in films such as the drama American Violet (2008), the psychological drama Shame (2011), the biographical sports drama 42 (2013), the crime drama Monsters and Men (2018), and the independent drama Miss Juneteenth (2020). From 2013 to 2016, she starred in the Fox supernatural drama series Sleepy Hollow.
Vanita Gupta is an American civil rights attorney serving as United States Associate Attorney General since April 22, 2021. Gupta served as the president and chief executive officer of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and as the principal deputy assistant attorney general and head of the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice, where she was the chief civil rights prosecutor for the United States from 2014 to 2017.
The African-American Film Critics Association Awards 2009, honoring the best in filmmaking of 2009, were given on December 14, 2009.
Azeline Hearne (1825-1890?), was an American slave who was freed near the end of her life, and became famous for the numerous lawsuits brought against her during the Reconstruction era. Hearne was briefly one of the wealthiest landowners in Texas before being reduced to poverty through civil lawsuits considered by modern day historians as unfair.
Kip A. Petroff is a Texas trial lawyer and is the founding partner of Petroff & Associates. His firm made its name handling plaintiffs' litigation, including representing clients suing blood banks for negligent screening of blood donors and suing the manufacturers of defective breast implants. However, he is best known for representing clients in lawsuits filed against American Home Products Corporation for heart valve injuries and other injuries arising from two diet drugs Wyeth marketed, Pondimin, and Redux.
Uncommon Productions, LLC is an independent film company based in Boston, Massachusetts and Los Angeles, California. Founded in 2000 by Bill Haney and Tim Disney, Uncommon's films tend to focus on social issues. Recent films include cancer immunotherapy documentary, Jim Allison: Breakthrough, mountain top removal documentary The Last Mountain featuring Robert Kennedy Jr., and the NAACP Image Award nominated drama American Violet about drug enforcement, starring Alfre Woodard and Charles S. Dutton.