American Violet

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic material, violence, drug references and language.
not reviewed
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults, Teens
Genre:
Drama
Length:
1 hr. 43 min.
Year of Release:
2009
USA Release:
April 17, 2009 (61 theaters) DVD: October 13, 2009
Copyright, The Samuel Goldwyn Company Copyright, The Samuel Goldwyn Company Copyright, The Samuel Goldwyn Company Copyright, The Samuel Goldwyn Company Copyright, The Samuel Goldwyn Company Copyright, The Samuel Goldwyn Company Copyright, The Samuel Goldwyn Company Copyright, The Samuel Goldwyn Company Copyright, The Samuel Goldwyn Company Copyright, The Samuel Goldwyn Company
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Featuring: Nicole Beharie (Dee Roberts), Will Patton (Sam Conroy), Alfre Woodard (Alma Roberts), Michael O'Keefe (Calvin Beckett), Tim Blake Nelson (David Cohen), Scott A. Martin (Jerry Arnold), Malcolm Barrett (Byron Hill), Jackson Beals (Officer Carter), Michael Beasley (Tony Flair), Samantha Beaulieu (Mrs. Lloyd), Tody Bernard (Judge Pryor), Allen Boudreaux (Lawyer), Jeanne Bourgeois (Reporter #1), Andrew Buchler (Deposition Videographer), Kesha Bullard (Angry Woman), J. Omar Castro (Cisco), John Will Clay (Henry Franklin), Portia Cue (Laquathia), Daurice Cummings (Pedestrian), Charles S. Dutton (Reverend Sanders), Roslyn D. Evans (Magnolia), more »
Director: Tim Disney
Producer: Uncommon Productions, Mark Donadio, Bill Haney, Debra Longo, Miriam Marcus, Lyz O'Keefe
Distributor: The Samuel Goldwyn Company

“When law is without order and justice is far from just, one woman must make a stand.”

Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “Based on real events and set in small town Texas in the year 2000, ‘American Violet’ tells the story of Dee Roberts (Nicole Beharie), a 24 year old African-American mother of four who is swept up in a drug raid and falsely accused based on the uncorroborated testimony of a single informant.

Despite the urgings of her mother Alma (Alfre Woodard), Dee rejects a plea bargain that would release her from jail, but forever brand her as a felon. With the custody of her children at stake, she instead decides to take on the powerful district attorney behind it all, Calvin Beckett (Michael O'Keefe). Roberts finds herself in an unlikely alliance with ACLU attorney David Cohen (Tim Blake Nelson) and former local narcotics officer Sam Conroy (Will Patton). With inspiring courage and dignity, Dee overcomes seemingly insurmountable obstacles, forever changing her and the Texas justice system.

In November 2000, with local and national elections days away, heavily armed police in rural Texas raided their town’s low income housing project. Of the 30 people arrested that day, one was an impoverished 24 year-old single mother of four. Let’s call her Dee. Dee was charged as a drug dealer.

She was offered a plea bargain. As is almost everyone arrested in America. In Dee’s case, her choice was simple. Either plead guilty to a crime she didn’t commit and leave the fetid, overcrowded Texas prison as a convicted felon or, stay and fight the government, risking more than a decade in prison and her children being hurled into the state’s foster care system.

Inspired by this heart-rendering true story and by painfully similar stories across the country, AMERICAN VIOLET is a tale of extraordinary personal courage—the story of a mother forced to choose between her children and her principles – a mother who fights to defend both.

America has the world’s largest prison population. More than Russia. More than China—a country with over four times our population. Over two million Americans are in prison.

More than 90% of these convicts accepted a plea bargain. They never faced a jury of their peers because in our country we do not adjudicate cases, we dispose of them. Vote-seeking tough-on-crime prosecutors fill for-profit prisons with plea bargain convictions. Thirteen million Americans are convicted felons. Most plead guilty because prosecutors made the risk of fighting the government and losing almost unbearably high.

Convicted felons lose federal benefits like food stamps, Medicare and Medicaid benefits, housing subsidies and Pell grants. In many states they also lose the right to vote—for example, millions were unable to vote in the 2000 election. And, having plead guilty, the convicted and their children suffer together, left with only the poorest of prospects. Few voices rise in defense of convicted felons.

But, sometimes in the darkest of circumstances, a voice emerges to inspire us all. Scared, lonely, worried for her children and overwhelmed by the power of her prosecutors, Dee still refused to plead guilty to something she didn’t do. She gambled her life to stand for American values as she understood them. Her courage inspired others to rally to her side. Six years ago, when we first heard her story, it inspired us. It still does.”

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