News / Arts & Entertainment

'Conviction' Portrays Sister's Unwavering Devotion to Brother

Hilary Swank starring as Betty Anne Waters and Sam Rockwell as Kenny Waters in
Hilary Swank starring as Betty Anne Waters and Sam Rockwell as Kenny Waters in "Conviction"

Multimedia

Alan Silverman

Oscar-winner Hilary Swank stars in a new drama based on the remarkable true story of a woman who spent almost two decades in a quest to prove her brother innocent of the crime for which he has been sent to prison. Here's a look at Conviction.

A rough character from a working class New England neighborhood, Kenny Waters was no model citizen; but he was no murderer either …or so he claimed …and his sister Betty Anne believed him:

"You are innocent."
"Are you sure about that?"

She was sure and she also reminded Kenny of the promise she made when they were kids being sent to separate foster homes: she would never abandon him. So when he was convicted in 1983 and sent to prison for murder, Betty Anne, a single mom and high school dropout, set out an ambitious – some would say 'impossible' – plan.

It took 18 years, but Betty Anne became an attorney, challenged the evidence against Kenny and finally, in 2001, won a reversal of his conviction to free her brother from prison.

"It's challenging, especially when the person you are playing is still alive; you want to do justice to their story,  especially when it's a story as magnificent as Betty Anne's is," explained Hilary Swank, who stars as Betty Anne Waters. "In the beginning I didn't know if I wanted to meet her right away. I knew eventually I wanted to, but I didn't want to just be parodying somebody. I wanted to understand her heart and understand where her passion and drive and unconditional love for her brother came from. So I listened to tons of stories that she had shared."

Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell in
Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell in "Conviction"

Swank is no stranger to characters drawn from real life. She recently portrayed aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart and Swank won the first of her two Best Actress Oscars as murder victim Brandon Teena in 1999's Boys Don't Cry. Swank, also executive producer of Conviction says she is drawn to heroic characters, but she knows she is just playing the part:

"It is really hard to compare my life to Betty Anne's," she added. "I'm someone who plays heroes like Betty Anne in the movies and it's a blessing for me to be able to live my dream while portraying such remarkable people; but in the end that's all I am. I'm just an actor. My passion lies in playing characters like Betty Anne, so the Academy Award has given me the opportunity, certainly, to continue to explore areas of the human spirit and life that inspire me."

Hilary Swank and director Tony Goldwyn on the set of
Hilary Swank and director Tony Goldwyn on the set of "Conviction"

Director Tony Goldwyn was also inspired when he first heard the true story in 2001. Goldwyn then worked for more than eight years to put Conviction on film. It is not a documentary, he points out, but Goldwyn was determined that audiences get an understanding of what did really happen and of what Betty Anne Waters achieved.

"My deep hope is that people will experience this movie and think about 'what am I willing to do' for the people that I care about most in my life, that I'm most connected to, that depend on me and on whom I depend," Goldwyn said. "What made me want to make this [and] to tell this story, beyond the extraordinariness of Betty Anne's achievement, was what I imagined was the bond between these two people and the extraordinary love that they shared – her faith in him and his in her.

"I think the thing we all crave in our lives is that kind of human connection, so if people come away from the movie thinking about the person next to them who might be their sister or brother or spouse or father …'what would I do for this person?' I think that's an important question for us all to answer."

Hilary Swank as Betty Anne Waters in
Hilary Swank as Betty Anne Waters in "Conviction"

Betty Anne Waters says she is pleased with how the film portrays the events that became the sole focus of her adult life – work that she continues, fighting for the rights of prison inmates and to win freedom for those, like her brother, who were wrongfully convicted. But she is also reluctant to accept the label "hero".

"I just did what I did one day at a time," Waters explained. "I never knew how long it was going to take or what turn it would take, so I don't feel like I sacrificed as much as other people think I have."

"What if the DNA matches Kenny's?"
"Get out. Get the hell out of my house right now!"
"No. You've got to hear this. Even if you're the most amazing fighter, the most brilliant lawyer in the world, there are forces greater than you and you may not win."
"You think I haven't thought of that?"
"No, you haven't."


Minnie Driver plays Betty Anne's law school classmate and closest friend through the whole ordeal. Conviction also features Sam Rockwell as her brother Kenny. Melissa Leo plays the local police officer whose investigation puts Kenny behind bars. The screenplay is written by Pamela Gray.

You May Like

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

China to Open Stock Markets to Pension Funds

In unprecedented move, government to soon allow local pension funds to invest up to $94 billion in domestic shares More

1 Billion People Used Facebook on Single Day

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg praised the accomplishment in a posting on the social media site More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs

New in Music Alley

Border Crossings: Nnekai
|| 0:00:00
...  
🔇
X
August 26, 2015 2:42 PM
Nigerian singer, songwriter Nneka sits down with Border Crossings host Larry London to perform songs from her latest CD, "My Fairy Tales" and to talk about her inspirations and influences.

Nigerian singer, songwriter Nneka sits down with Border Crossings host Larry London to perform songs from her latest CD, "My Fairy Tales" and to talk about her inspirations and influences.