NBA’s Steph Curry and actress Viola Davis on board as producers of documentary about Charleston church shooting
Carol Ozemhoya | OW Contributor | 11/2/2018, 11:55 a.m.
Not too long ago, Our Weekly wrote about how NBA star Steph Curry had cut a substantial deal to invest in creating urban content, much like his frequent opponent on the court, LeBron James. This week Variety reports that Curry is joining renowned Black actress Viola Davis as executive producer of a documentary being developed on the mass shooting of a white man at a predominantly Black church in Charleston. The two have signed on as executive producers of “Emanuel,” a documentary about the 2015 mass murder of Black churchgoers by white supremacist Dylan Roof.
Unanimous Media, the production company of Curry, and Viola Davis and Julius Tennon’s JuVee Productions, join as executive producers of the film alongside Dane Smith, David Segel and Tina Segel. “Emanuel” documents the events of June 17, 2015, when 21-year-old Roof walked into a bible-study group at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, and shot and killed nine African-Americans during their closing prayer.
Directed by Brian Ivie (“The Drop Box”), “Emanuel” was made in direct partnership with the city of Charleston and all 10 affected families, featuring interviews with survivors and family members. Producers describe the film as “a poignant story of justice and faith, love and hate, and the healing power of forgiveness.” The “Emanuel” team is looking for a distribution partner for the film, which is a big reason Davis and Curry came on board. The 75-minute film premiered at Geena Davis’ 2018 Bentonville Film Festival in May, where it won the jury prize award for documentary, and screened at the Heartland International Film Festival in October, where it was the audience-award winner.
It will screen at the DOC NYC festival, which runs Nov. 14-15. 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 said in a statement, “‘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.” Unanimous Media was founded by Curry, CEO Jeron Smith and CCO Erick Peyton to produce TV, film and digital content mostly centered around family, faith and sports.
The company announced a multiyear development and production deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment in April. “The ‘Emanuel’ documentary truly embodies Unanimous’ core values,” Smith said. “The shooting was intended to incite fear and hopelessness, but instead the victims and their families exhibited love and faith. This film celebrates their strength, and we couldn’t be more honored to be a part of it.”