Bohemia Media, the UK distribution company launched in January by Phil Hunt and Lucy Fenton, has made Chinonye Chukwu’s Clemency its first acquisition.
The film will be released on July 31 via a revenue-sharing model between premium VoD, independent cinemas, racial justice organisations and POC (people of colour) film organisations across the country.
During the digital theatrical window, Clemency will be available on Bohemia Media’s own VoD platform. Viewers will be asked to select a local cinema or preferred film collective to receive an equal split of the revenue.
This innovative release format has been spearheaded by gender equality agency Birds Eye View, and inspired by Kino Lorber’s recently-launched Kino Marquee VoD platform in the US.
A ‘conscious consumerism’ campaign to back the release will launch on social media from July 17, the International Day of Justice 2020.
The film will then be available on mainstream VoD platforms from August 24 via Trinity Media.
“[Clemency’s] social message about the toll of the death penalty on all involved is poignant. We are delighted to be supporting the important work of The Death Penalty Project with this film; the London-based charity provides free legal representation to those facing execution and a lifeline to those whose right to life, to a fair trial, and to humane treatment is at stake,” said Hunt and Fenton.
“It is essential that [cinemas] can find other revenue streams and find new ways to participate in showing films,” said Birds’ Eye View’s Mia Bays. “This film and this approach are socially, culturally and commercially significant, and this is a new way for the film industry and audiences to be an ally.”
Clemency debuted at Sundance 2019 where Chukwu became the first black woman to win the grand jury prize. It stars Alfre Woodard as a prison warden who is confronted by her own psychological demons as an inmate faces a death sentence.
It is produced by ACE Pictures Entertainment, Bronwyn Cornelius Productions, Julian Cautherley, Peter Wong and Timur Bekbosunov.
Chukwu was motivated to tell the story by the case of Troy Davis, a Georgia State prison inmate who was executed in 2011.
Woodard received nominations at the Gotham Independent Film Awards, Independent Spirit Awards and NAACP Image Awards for her performance, with Chukwu receiving screenplay nominations at the latter two.
Chukwu’s upcoming projects include Americanah, a series based on Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel.