Viola Davis and Stephen Curry have jumped on board to executive produce Emanuel, a documentary about the 2015 mass killing of Black congregants by a white supremacist inside Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
According to Variety, the Oscar-winning actress and basketball star, through their production companies JuVee Productions and Unanimous Media, have signed on to be part of the film that explores the day when 21-year-old Dylann Roof walked into a bible study group and shot and killed nine Black churchgoers.
The events of that day in 2015 “served as a stark reminder of the power of racism,” Viola Davis and Julius Tennon of JuVee Productions said in a joint statement. “We, along with the country, grieved each family’s loss. Yet, miraculously, from this devastation we witnessed tremendous benchmarks of humanity. The survivors found courage to love in the face of hate. JuVee is proud to be a part of this healing and truth telling along with Unanimous Media, Brian Ivie and John Sheppard.”
Curry echoed the sentiments in his own statement, saying: “Emanuel is an incredibly powerful film and we’re honored to come on board as executive producers. The documentary highlights how a horrible tragedy can bring a community together, and spreads an important message about the power of forgiveness. Stories like this are the reason we created Unanimous and entered the entertainment space. I hope the film inspires others like it does me.”
Roof told the church members that he targeted the historic Black church to seek vengeance for a false narrative — a claim that Blacks were raping white women and taking over the country in hopes of starting a race war. Only three people survived.
The radicalized domestic terrorist was later sentenced to death last year after being found guilty for his crimes.
The documentary, which was made in direct partnership with the city of Charleston and all 10 affected families, features interviews with survivors and family members.
The doc has already played in a few festivals, including the 2018 Bentonville Film Festival, where it won the jury prize award for documentary. It also won the audience award at the Heartland International Film Festival in October.