Clemency (film)

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Clemency poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byChinonye Chukwu
Produced by
  • Bronwyn Cornelius
  • Julian Cautherley
  • Peter Wong
  • Timur Bekbosunov
  • Alfre Woodard
Written byChinonye Chukwu
Music byKathryn Bostic
CinematographyEric Branco
Edited byPhyllis Housen
  • ACE Pictures
  • Big Indie Pictures
  • Bronwyn Cornelius Productions
Distributed byNeon
Release date
  • January 27, 2019 (2019-01-27) (Sundance)
  • December 27, 2019 (2019-12-27) (United States)
Running time
113 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$339,489[1][2]

Clemency is a 2019 American drama film written and directed by Chinonye Chukwu. It stars Alfre Woodard, Richard Schiff, Danielle Brooks, Michael O'Neill, Richard Gunn, Wendell Pierce and Aldis Hodge. It had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 27, 2019. It was released on December 27, 2019, by Neon. It received critical acclaim for its screenplay, cinematography, Chukwu's direction, score, themes, and especially Woodard's performance.[3]


Bernadine Williams, a Death Row prison warden whose job has taken a psychological toll on her, must confront her demons when she has to execute another inmate.



The film had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 27, 2019.[4] It won the U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize there, making Chukwu the first black woman to win the award.[5] Shortly after, Neon acquired distribution rights to the film.[6] It screened at the San Diego International Film Festival on October 18, 2019.[7] It is scheduled to be released on December 27, 2019.[8]


Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 92% based on 84 reviews, with an average rating of 7.66/10. The site's consensus reads: "Clemency mines serious social issues for gripping drama, brought to life by an outstanding cast led by Alfre Woodard."[3] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 76 out of 100, based on 23 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews."[9]

Eric Kohn of IndieWire gave the film an "A–" and wrote: "Writer-director Chinonye Chukwu's second feature maintains the quiet, steady rhythms of a woman so consumed by her routine that by the end of the opening credits, it appears to have consumed her humanity as well."[10]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) and nominee(s) Result Ref(s)
Sundance Film Festival February 2, 2019 U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize Chinonye Chukwu Won [11]
Seattle International Film Festival June 9, 2019 Best Actress Alfre Woodard Second place [12]
Best Actor Aldis Hodge Fourth Place [12]
Philadelphia Film Festival October 17, 2019 Best Local Feature Chinonye Chukwu Won [13]
Gotham Awards December 2, 2019 Best Actress Alfre Woodard Nominated [14]
Best Actor Aldis Hodge Nominated [14]
Casting Society of America January 30, 2020 Low Budget – Comedy or Drama Kerry Barden, Paul Schnee, Roya Semnanian Nominated [15]
Independent Spirit Awards February 8, 2020 Best Female Lead Alfre Woodard Nominated [16]
Best Screenplay Chinonye Chukwu Nominated [16]
Best Feature Timur Bekbosunov, Julian Cautherley, Bronwyn Cornelius and Peter Wong Nominated [16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Clemency (2019)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved February 9, 2020.
  2. ^ "Clemency (2019)". The Numbers. Retrieved February 9, 2020.
  3. ^ a b "Clemency (2019)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved January 12, 2020.
  4. ^ "Sundance Unveils Politics-Heavy Lineup Featuring Ocasio-Cortez Doc, Feinstein Drama". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 28, 2018.
  5. ^ Erbland, Kate (February 3, 2019). "Sundance: 'Clemency' Filmmaker Chinonye Chukwu Is First Black Woman to Win Biggest Prize". Retrieved April 22, 2019.
  6. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (February 27, 2019). "Chinonye Chukwu's Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winner 'Clemency' Acquired By NEON". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
  7. ^ "2019 San Diego Intl Film Festival". September 21, 2019. Retrieved September 24, 2019.
  8. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (April 25, 2019). "Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winner 'Clemency' Eyes Awards Season Release Date". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  9. ^ "Clemency Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved January 12, 2020.
  10. ^ Kohn, Eric (January 28, 2019). "'Clemency' Review: Alfre Woodard Is Brilliant in Must-See Prison Drama — Sundance". IndieWire. Retrieved February 3, 2019.
  11. ^ Debruge, Peter (February 2, 2019). "Sundance Winners: Clemency, One Child Nation Take Top Honors". Variety. Retrieved February 3, 2019.
  12. ^ a b "SIFF 2019 Award Winners". SIFF. Retrieved July 10, 2019.
  13. ^ "2019 Philadelphia Film Festival: Full lineup revealed". 6abc Philadelphia. October 18, 2019.
  14. ^ a b "Gotham Awards: 'Marriage Story,' 'The Farewell,' 'Uncut Gems' Lead Nominations". The Hollywood Reporter.
  15. ^ Schaffstall, Katherine (January 2, 2020). "Artios Awards: 'Hustlers,' 'Knives Out,' 'Rocketman' Among Casting Society Film Nominees". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  16. ^ a b c Sharf, Zack; Sharf, Zack (November 21, 2019). "2020 Independent Spirit Awards Nominees: 'Marriage Story,' 'Uncut Gems,' and More".

External links[edit]