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American Violet
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on March 27, 2017
American Violet has put on trial the entire “so called” American justice system through the plight of Deedee, the heroin of the story.
With meticulous and magic strokes, script writer Bill Haney had touched many of the issues that plague the disenfranchised in the American society, in majority the African American communities: deep poverty, single parent family (DeeDee Roberts, the heroin is raising three daughters on her own with the occasional help of her mother, played by Alfree Woodard), lack or absence of opportunities to move up on the social ladder, and also how the so called american justice system is more about convicting people at all cost, no matter whether someone is innocent or not, so that counties in the United States with the highest number of convictions can put themselves in the position to receive more money from the federal government.
There is something fundamentally flawed about the so called justice system that we as humans have put in place throughout our history on this earth. The French writer of the nineteenth century, Honoré de Balzac, once said “that human laws are like a spider webs crafted to let the big ones go through and catch the little ones”. Those words ring true to this day. It is above human comprehension why the powerful ones among us put so much energy, time and resources to put in place an entire judicial system whose only goal is to oppress – and oftentimes – suppress a group that is deemed to be different. In the case of that movie, the African American people whose ancestors had been enslaved for several centuries and their descendants continuously are the target of unfair carriages of justice. Through the myth of Prometheus, we learned how fire got in the hands of mankind. Regardless of how Justice as a tool got to us, , it was NOT supposed to be put in the hands of mankind given our natural flaws and the biases passed down to us by our environments.
The ACLU lawyer (a white man) along with his two aides (another white man and a black man) in that movie represents a glimmer of hope by taking on a corrupt judicial establishment. The ACLU lawyer and his aides – through their fights for real justice - symbolize a very rare breed of humans in our world who still believe in the words written by a gentleman a couple of centuries ago declaring that “all men are created equals” should not just be cold letters drawn on a piece of a historical document, but a reality that EVERY human being on this planet should enjoy regardless of the color of the skin or the amount of money – or lack thereof - in a bank account.
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on May 23, 2010
... of cynical complacency and "one-party rule", in a seedy small town in a turbulent province of a sprawling nation with a long history of racial violence and ethnic cleansing, in the year of a fraudulent election managed 'from the top', a pogrom planned and executed by local officials results in the imprisonment of a young mother on trumped-up charges. She is, of course, of the persecuted minority religion and ethnic group, who have been intimidated by decades of persecution. The ambitious local "party boss" has the entire corrupt police and judicial system in his pocket; under the one-party national administration (executive, legislative & judicial), he stands to gain by 'convicting' whomever he can, and his methods are familiar: terrified informants who will accuse whomever he points to, the hypocritical appeal of 'law and order' to the ruling ethnic majority, interrogations leading to false confessions, and good old-fashioned "show trials". But this time, the unjustly accused young woman decides to fight back ...

That's the story told in "American Violet". The young mother is named Dee Roberts in the film. Her ethnic minority? She's African-American. The seedy community is called Melody, Texas. The story, however, is almost fact-for-fact the true tale of events in Hearne, Texas, USA. The real-life young woman is Regina Kelly; you can see her in the flesh on YouTube and read about her plight on numerous websites, just by googling her name. She was aided in her courageous stand against racist injustice by the ACLU, and her case - Kelly v. Paschall - is discussed on an ACLU web page. In the film and in reality, the case resulted in a small victory and some modest changes in the judicial rules of Texas.

Actress Nicole Beharie performs the role of Dee Roberts perfectly, humanely, convincingly. Indeed, all the acting in this film is first rate, despite which the film is not an artistic masterpiece by any means. It doesn't aim at artistry; it aims at conviction, and that it achieves. The bare facts are so disturbing and concerning that drama seems insignificant. Hey, I can tell you it was gripping -- pardon my personal touch here -- because my wife didn't ask me to pause the DVD even once to answer nature's call!

Other reviewers have noted the issues of drug abuse, and of the abuse of 'drug control' as a tool of racism and racial profiling. The film isn't really about drug crimes, which are real and catastrophic in America and its neighbors, and which involve white communities as well as colored. It's about the perversion of a justice system by a perverted worldview.

Oh yeah, the Iron Curtain? That was Churchill's metaphor originally, remember? It was a brilliant metaphor for the despicable cynicism of Stalinist tyranny. It's a metaphor here also, for the pervasive bigotry that still makes a mockery of America's ideal, that 'all men are created equal.' There was no physical 'iron curtain' in the USSR, nor around Hearne, Texas. Ironically, however, a physical iron curtain -- a metal wall hundreds of miles long -- is right now under construction along one border of the Land of the Free. Founding father Thomas Jefferson argued that the validity of the "social compact" theory of government depended inviolably on the right and opportunity of every individual to choose his place of residence, thereby ratifying his acceptance of the compact. Long Tom is surely rolling in his grave.
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VINE VOICEon November 24, 2009
One minute Dee Roberts (Nicole Beharie) is making an honest living as a waitress and sharing her dreams with a customer and soon after she's snatched away by police. Her four daughters go without their mother for twenty-one days while she spends time in jail for a crime she did not commit.

Dee lives in Melody, TX. The police have been raiding her community of Arlington Springs since she was a child, terrorizing less fortunate people of color and her so-called lawyer wants her to become one of many affected by plea bargains. Dee could have been like those who pleaded guilty under duress, but it was the love she had for her own children that gave her the courage to make a difficult choice. She decided to help ACLU lawyers David Cohen and Bryon Hill and a lawyer who resided in Melody, TX, Sam Conroy (Will Patton), fight to make things right. Dee was advised against taking a stand and, yes, she was afraid at times but she had the support of people close to her and she took her problems to Jesus.

When I heard about this film months ago I believe it only played in select theaters so I didn't get to see it. I was glad to come across it on dvd. Like most movies dealing with racial discrimination, parts of this movie irritated me but I did like American Violet.

"After what they did to me, mama, they made it my business!" - I liked that line. And the words confidential informant Porter (Anthony Mackie) spoke at the end of the pre-trail deposition - deep.
American Violet is based on a true story and I applaud Regina Kelly for her courage.
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on November 27, 2013
A really important film looking at race and the so-called 'drug war.' It helps us to face the racist legacy of some of our police departments and the multi-faceted challenges of single parenthood, trying to get ahead, and being oppressed all at the same time. I've used it in a course on prison ministry so that students can see the inequities, stereotypes and just plain injustice Black communities in general and Black women in particular face with some regularity. Very moving!
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on March 19, 2014
This is a great story showing how little towns and their "DRUG TASK FORCE" program will falsly attack and convict people in a kangaroo court system. The town of Dyersburg TN. also has this problem and it needs addressed. Example: They will pull you over and find something in your car like a Home burned dvd and say you are in the bootleg business and the proceed to rob you.
Trust me this is a true event. If you don't believe me you can contact Lynn Waller of the dyersburg TN task force.
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on March 18, 2017
Good job!!
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on October 12, 2017
Loved it.
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on July 20, 2017
Well made film about an important and disturbing reality of life for many low income people of color. If you care about social justice, watch this film. It's a good reminder about the need for moral courage in standing up to injustice.
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on November 12, 2016
Very revealing about the racist behavior that existed in Texas at that time. Very well acted
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on January 17, 2018
True story
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