Hope & Redemption: The Lena Baker Story (2008) Poster

Hope & Redemption: The Lena Baker Story (2008)

  • Rate: 5.0/10 total 176 votes 
  • Genre: Crime | Drama | History
  • Runtime: 106 min
  • Filming Location: Georgia, USA
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Hope & Redemption: The Lena Baker Story (2008)

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  • IMDb page: Hope & Redemption: The Lena Baker Story (2008)
  • Rate: 5.0/10 total 176 votes 
  • Genre: Crime | Drama | History
  • Runtime: 106 min
  • Filming Location: Georgia, USA
  • Budget: $2,500,000(estimated)
  • Director: Ralph Wilcox
  • Stars: Tichina Arnold, Dwayne Boyd and Chris Burns
  • Original Music By: Todd Cochran   
  • Sound Mix: Dolby Digital

Writing Credits By:

    (in alphabetical order)

  • Ralph Wilcox  writer

Known Trivia

    Plot: A chronicle of the life of Lena Baker, the first woman to be sent to the electric chair in Georgia for the murder of her employer, who forced her into sexual slavery.  »

    Story: A chronicle of the life of Lena Baker, the first woman to be sent to the electric chair in Georgia for the murder of her employer, who forced her into sexual slavery.

    Synopsis

    Synopsis:

    Based on true events, THE LENA BAKER STORY recounts one African-American womans struggle to rise above the challenges of her life, to face the choices she makes, and to ultimately triumph over her impossible circumstances.

    As a young girl in the early 1900s Lena Baker (Tichina Arnold) and her mother (Beverly Todd) make ends meet by picking cotton in the hot southern sun of rural Cuthbert, Georgia. Lena grows up to work as a prostitute during the Roaring Twenties in an attempt to make enough money to head north and start anew. She is arrested before her dream is realized and sentenced to ten months of hard labor. Returning from this grueling experience and reuniting with her mother on the dusty road near their home, it is clear that Lena is changed forever.

    Years later, it seems that Lena has finally overcome her inner demons. She has three young children, she no longer drinks, she attends church regularly and helps her mother with their weekly laundry work.

    Just when it seems Lena may be able to forget the sorrow of her past, she is called to work for Elliot Arthur (Peter Coyote), a tyrannical white man known in Cuthbert for his angry disposition and drinking. Over time, Lena and Elliot develop a highly-charged relationship, filled with alcohol, cruelty and a troubling need for one another.

    Elliots physical and mental abuse continues to escalate. He often kidnaps Lena from her home and imprisons her for weeks, keeping her from her children and mother. One particularly hot and humid night, Lena finally stands up for herself and attempts to break free from his bondage. A struggle ensues and the gun they tussle over accidentally goes off. Elliot Arthur, a white man, is shot by Lena Baker, an African-American woman. She is arrested soon after by the towns sympathetic sheriff (Michael Rooker) who is helpless in the face of social mores of the time.

    The trial is swift and a jury of 12 white men, her subpoenaed peers, find Lena guilty of murder in less than six hours. Lena soon receives the devastating news that she has been sentenced to death by electrocution. During the coming months, Lena prepares for her passing with dignity and strength. In the end, she dies confident in the knowledge that God will judge her in a way that her fellow human beings could not.

    Lena Baker was the first and only woman to be sentenced to death by the electric chair in the state of Georgia and was executed in 1945. She was pardoned posthumously in 2005.

     

    FullCast & Crew

    Produced By:

    • Pete Ballard known as executive producer: post production
    • Dennis Johnson known as producer
    • Barton Rice known as executive producer
    • Charles Rice known as executive producer
    • Korey Washington known as associate producer
    • Ralph Wilcox known as producer

    FullCast & Crew:

    • Tichina Arnold known as Lena Baker
    • Dwayne Boyd known as Juke Joint Man #1
    • Chris Burns known as Max Arthur
    • Kenny Cook known as Barry Arthur
    • Peter Coyote known as Elliot Arthur
    • Jasmine Farmer known as Young Netty
    • Mike Hickman known as Mr. Candance
    • Tom Huff known as Ken Thomas
    • Randy McDowell known as Lyle Jacobs
    • Paul Montgomery known as Rev. James
    • Ron Prather known as Mr. Riddle
    • Frank Roberts known as Mr. Powell
    • Michael Rooker
    • Shamar Sanders known as Royal (as Brandon Sanders)
    • Ron Clinton Smith known as Cotton Foreman
    • Susie Spear Purcell known as Mrs. Riddle (as Susie Spear)
    • Jody Thompson known as Ronnie Edwards
    • Beverly Todd
    • Dikran Tulaine known as Mr ferris
    • Bobby 'JoJo' White known as Juke Joint Man #2
    • Michaela Worthy known as Alice Lee
    • L. Warren Young known as Milton

    ..

     

    Supporting Department

    Makeup Department:
    • Betty Bennett known as additional hair stylist
    • Erin Keith known as additional makeup artist
    • Evelyn Roach known as key hair stylist
    • Holly Sago known as assistant makeup artist
    • Emma Sales known as assistant hair stylist
    • Jason Willis known as key makeup artist

    Art Department:

    • James Cannon known as scenic charge
    • Jamie Dorfman known as property master
    • Konrad Lewis known as leadperson
    • Javed Noorullah known as assistant property master
    • Javed Noorullah known as props
    • James Thompson known as set dresser
    • Scott D. Warner known as propmaker

    ..

     

    Company

    Production Companies:

    • Laughing Crow Entertainment
    • Schuster's Cash

    Other Companies:

    • Liquid Soul Media  marketing and promotion
    • Lab 601  post-production facilities
    • B.D. Fox Independent  publicity
    • Film Production Capital  tax credit brokering
    • IndieClear  script clearance

    Distributors:

    • B.D. Fox Independent (2009) (USA) (theatrical)
    • Alpha Filmes (2009) (Brazil) (DVD)
    • Barnholtz Entertainment
    • Evolution Entertainment (2009) (Switzerland) (DVD)
    • Murena International (2009) (Russia) (all media)
    • Pan Vision (2009) (Sweden) (DVD)
    • Pan Vision (2009) (Sweden) (DVD) (Blu-ray)

    ..

     

    Other Stuff

    Release Date:
    • USA 10 April 2008 (Atlanta Film and Video Festival)
    • France 20 May 2008 (Cannes Film Market)
    • USA 30 August 2008 (Jokara-Micheaux Film Festival)
    • USA 6 November 2008 (American Film Market)
    • USA 28 April 2009 (DVD premiere)
    • Sweden 26 August 2009 (DVD premiere)

    MPAA: Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material involving racism, violence, alcoholism, and some sexual content

    ..

     
     

    Filmography links and data courtesy of The Internet Movie Database


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    Posted on March 31, 2012 by Harry in Movies | Tags: , , , .

    4 Comments

    1. quantize from Australia
      31 Mar 2012, 12:21 am

      Here's a second, more sober and realistic review.

      This film has a very made-for-TV quality, and despite a decent cast,the acting and script is quite plain and corny..

      .the music in particular is very hammy in some scenes (clearly theproducers and directors thought gospel singing throughout quiet dialogscenes was required to INSTRUCT the audience how to feel – a mark ofpoorly executed drama). The music cues are horribly instructive and robmost of the scenes of genuine depth.

      It's always a shame when a worthwhile story is told so poorly, but thisreeks of misconceived earnest intentions. You feel the desperation ofthe creators to elicit emotion, but it's so bogged down in contrivedmelodrama it misfires completely and will greatly disappoint anyonelooking for an insightful racial drama.

      That IMDb score needs to come down a bit closer to reality..it's noOscar material, that is most certain.

    2. selnelkea from United States
      31 Mar 2012, 12:21 am

      From the perspective of a Christian, I loved the gospel music so muchthat I felt that the music complimented the movie even more. I am agospel lover and I would like to know if there is a soundtrack? I alsofeel that the significance of this movie was missed by some viewers.The church setting and God-Lovers who had no choice but to be disposedto Satan driven sin (rape, alcohol, sex slavery, lying, fornication,murder, racial hatred, lynchings, lust and everything else that iswrong with this world) are all in the Bible and the story line a(real-life movie) of what our ancestors endured during those times werejust as real as the nose on our faces. Gospel music – in my opinion- isan expression of God's Holy Bible and how Christians should live theirlives. I cried when I saw how our ancestors were treated (like garbage)and the gospel music made it that much reality. Please, Please, producemore movies like this with gospel music. Back in the slavery era, God'sChurch and gospel music was the only "Peace of mind" that our ancestorshad from those who were obviously "satan-deceived." Keep up theexcellent work of the truth. Please do not "sugar coat" how thingswere, if the gospel music had not been added to this story line,especially since this is how it really was, then you would beshort-changing Black History and the History of Gospel Music.

      A God – Loving Black Woman who Loves her Gospel Music!

    3. Reginald D. Garrard from Camilla, GA
      31 Mar 2012, 12:21 am

      In the rush to produce the latest multi-million dollar, big-budgeted,sfx-filled, star-laden cinematic extravaganza, many distributors aremissing the opportunity to release films of top quality that appeal tothe emotional levels of us all. Granted, film-making is a business andthe bottom line is still profits. However, there is a large audiencethat is seeking a good story with a cast and crew of talentedprofessionals whose work is evident on the big screen.

      This audience can make a film into a top-grosser, too.

      "The Lena Baker Story" is a prime example of a film that appeals to themoviegoer that wants a story, a genuine masterwork that was made by afilmmaker that truly understands film and storytelling. Adapted fromthe book by Lela Bond Phillips, with assistance by Karan Pittman, andwritten for the screen by director Ralph Wilcox, the movie is rivetingfrom beginning to end. Telling the story of the events leading up andthe eventual execution of impoverished South Georgia native Lena Bakerin 1945, the movie speaks to us all about such negatives as racism,abuse of women, poverty, and the imperfections of the legal system.However, the movie also touches on such positives as the strength ofthe church, the unbinding love of family, and the search for justice,no matter how long the latter takes.

      Wilcox, himself an actor, has assembled a cast of well-known faces, aswell as new ones, and they all have "come up to the plate" in theirrespective parts. Because of Wilcox's appreciation of the craft, thereare no small parts in this film. Even the smaller roles allow eachactor a chance to shine.

      Kaya Camp and Jasmine Farmer are outstanding in their respective rolesof young Lena and young Nettie. They are also supported by first-timeactor Lamar Perkins, Jr. as young Royal. A moving portrayal of ayoungster showing off his reading ability is provided by youngChristopher Hayward, Jr. Natalie Richardson and Santana Shelton in theroles of the teen-aged Lena and Nettie, respectively, are superb intheir limited screen time.

      Along with the aforementioned performers, memorable turns are providedby supporting players Susie Spears, Frank Roberts, and Deborah CallawayDuke.

      As far as the principal cast is concerned, they are as talented astalented can get. Chris Burns dons the "black hat" role of the son ofthe farmer Lena was forced to kill. Brown is quite effective,especially in the scene wherein he physically assaults Baker. Veteranheavy Michael Rooker brings a bit of pathos to his"good-old-boy-sheriff" role and exemplifies how law officials of thepast had to enforce convictions that they knew were wrong.

      Beverly Todd is captivating as Lena Baker's mother. Her part is one ofquiet strength and love for her daughter and Todd tackles the role thatonly an actor of unlimited talent could do.

      Though his part may be considered the "villain" of the piece, PeterCoyote manages to convey a bit of sympathy as the abusive and alcoholic"Mr. Arthur." Because of Wilcox's excellent screenplay, viewers see inCoyote's part the "grays" that so many have, neither good nor bad butsomewhere in the middle. Coyote, a longtime veteran of movies andtelevision, usually immerses himself in whatever role he takes and thistime is no different.

      He is magnificent.

      Because Tichina Arnold is primarily known for her comedic roles in suchtelevision fare as "Martin" and "Everybody Hates Chris," her role asLena Baker is riveting. Every time that she is on screen, she owns it.She has managed to create one of the most memorable characters incinematic history, a woman that due to the conditions of hersurroundings and the times in which she lived, was forced to compromiseher religious teachings and upbringing, ultimately being forced into asituation that could only end tragically.

      Particularly effective is her first scene with Todd as mother anddaughter are reunited after Lena's first brush with the law. Arnold isequally impressive in the final confrontation between Baker and Arthur,as well as the emotionally-draining scenes of the preparation forBaker's execution.

      A review of the film would not be complete without giving credit tocinematographer Michael Shawn Lewallen and composer Todd Cochran.Lewallen has given the film's South Georgia location shots the "look"of a more expensive production and several scenes show the expanse ofthe rural south most effectively. Cochran deftly combines traditionalhymns with subtle underscoring that never overpowers a scene, providingthe perfect musical accompaniment to a film of such power.

      The film is headed for Cannes later this year and if there is anyjustice in this world, "The Lena Baker Story" should come back with aboatload of honors for the director/screenwriter, the producers, theunparalleled cast, and other contributors to this monumental cinematicachievement.

    4. max-850 from United States
      31 Mar 2012, 12:21 am

      I am not sure if there is such a thing as a spoiler in a story that isof public record and a movie that is marketed by revealing it so thateveryone knows going in how it ends, but in any event, I have dutifullychecked the spoiler box in spite of it being redundant in this case.This story is incredibly moving. I can't say I enjoyed it because itjust made me angry. Angry about what white people have done to blackpeople. Lena Baker was an innocent victim of a racist culture. If therewere a God he would have saved her and struck down every white man inthat courtroom and in that town the day they convicted her. If therewere a God he would never let an old alcoholic jerk abuse her foryears. If there really were a God he deserves worse than Lena Baker gotfor being responsible for it. Peter Coyote did a good job on that part.I really hated him. Georgia is the slowest state in the union if ittook them 60 years to pardon Lena Baker. I guess better late thannever. When a character in the movie says, "Go with God," I could onlythink, "No, don't go with God. God did this to you."

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