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 "Conviction"
    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 "Conviction"
    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 "Conviction"
    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 "Conviction"
    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

    US Lawmakers Vow to Continue Immigrant Program for Afghan Interpreters

    Congressional inaction threatens funding for effort which began in 2008 and has allowed more than 20,000 interpreters, their family members to immigrate to US

    Brexit's Impact on Russia Stirs Concern

    Some analysts see Brexit aiding Putin's plans to destabilize European politics; others note that an economically unstable Europe is not in Moscow's interests

    US to Train Cambodian Government on Combating Cybercrime

    Concerns raised over drafting of law, as critics fear cybercrime regulations could be used to restrict freedom of expression and stifle political dissent

    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.
    Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roari
    X
    June 28, 2016 10:33 AM
    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    New in Music Alley

    Take It From The Top: Stanley Jordani
    || 0:00:00
    ...  
     
    X
    May 17, 2016 5:01 PM
    Jazz fusion artist, Stanley Jordan is known for his touch technique which allows him to play melodies and chords simultaneously. He can also play two different guitars or a guitar and piano at the same time.

    Jazz fusion artist, Stanley Jordan is known for his touch technique which allows him to play melodies and chords simultaneously.  He can also play two different guitars or a guitar and piano at the same time.

     

     

     

     

    Blogs

    African Music Treasures