Acclaimed drama 'Clemency' to split revenue with independent cinemas

Tom Butler
Senior Editor
Alfre Woodard in a still from Clemency. (Bohemia Media)

Clemency, Chinonye Chukwu’s critically-acclaimed drama starring Alfre Woodard, has landed a UK release date of 17 July.

The film, about a death row prison warden who confronts the psychological and emotional demons of her chosen career, won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival earlier this year.

It’s the first release from new UK distributor Bohemia Media which is dedicated to promoting titles from “marginalised groups that are not well-served within mainstream culture”.

The film will launch on streaming service Curzon Home Cinema and Bohemia's own platform simultaneously from the 17 July. Bohemia has pledged to share revenue from sales on its own platform with independent cinemas across the country.

Chinonye Chukwu, left, and Alfre Woodard attend the 2020 Film Independent Spirit Awards Nominee Brunch at the Boa Steakhouse on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020, in West Hollywood, Calif. (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP)

Punters who stream the film via Bohemia’s bespoke film streaming platform will be able to select a local cinema to receive an equal split of the revenue.

Despite cinemas being able to open from July, as long as coronavirus infection rates continue to decline, many independent cinemas have said they won’t be able to reopen until September due to the loss of revenue imposed by social distancing measures.

Chukwu wrote and directed the death row drama, and she became the first Black woman to win the top prize at the acclaimed indie film festival.

Read more: The films that will reopen UK cinemas

Matt Fagerholm on RogerEbert.com said of the Woodard’s performance, which sadly went overlooked at this year’s Oscars: “This is screen acting of a very rare sort, and Clemency is a vital emotional powerhouse sorely deserving of being seen.”

Guardian’s Benjamin Lee called Clemency: “a bleakly effective character study as well as a damning indictment of a barbaric and unjust system.”

Manohla Dargis of The New York Times said: “Sometimes acting seems like possession. That’s how Alfre Woodard’s performance in Clemency feels as she violently sweeps you up with the force of her talent.

Clemency is out on 17 July. Watch the US trailer for the film below.