Free In Deed

New American Cinema | 2015 | 98 minutes

SIFF Says:

Winner of the 2015 Venice Film Festival Horizons Award for Best Film, Free In Deed is a jarring piece of social realism that is as illuminating as it is heartbreaking, equal parts controversial and compassionate. Melva (Edwina Findley, Middle of Nowhere), a single mother living in one of the most destitute corners of Memphis, struggles to raise her two children, especially the autism-struck Benny (newcomer RaJay Chandler). His uncontrollable, violent outbursts get him tossed out of school, baffle doctors, and threaten to tear the family apart. Melva’s only solace is in a Pentecostal basement church, which, though sparsely attended, presents rousing sermons courtesy of Bishop (Preston Shannon, one of many non-professionals that give the film its stark verisimilitude). Also in attendance is Abe (David Harewood, Homeland), a desperate believer who fancies himself something of a faith healer. With seemingly little to lose, Melva enlists Abe to exorcise her son of the “demons” that torment him, but while the two faith-seekers grow closer both spiritually and physically, what little control they have over their lives begins to slip out of their delicate hands. Based on actual events, this is a harrowing condemnation of a society that fails its citizens with false promises—socially, institutionally, religiously—and the lengths people go for salvation.

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Film Credits
Jake Mahaffy
David Harewood, Edwina Findley, Kathy Smith, Rajay Chandler, Preston Shannon
SIFF 2016