While much of the state was focused on the last-minute visit of President Obama, the RWU Law community was celebrating a very special Rhode Island Advance Screening of the new Fox Searchlight motion picture “Conviction” - the amazing true story of alumna Betty Anne Waters '98 and her efforts to free her wrongfully convicted brother from prison. The film goes into wide distribution this Friday, Oct. 29.
Just before the screening, RWU Law sponsored a fundraiser for The Innocence Project, the organization that helped Betty Anne (and hundreds of other families) to win freedom for at this point more then 250 wrongfully incarcerated men. Held at Fleming's restaurant in downtown Providence, the event raised over $5,000 - and provided the first chance for many folks who know Betty Anne’s story to actually spend some time with this remarkable woman (played by Hilary Swank in the movie!), as well as to meet her RWU Law classmate (and dear friend) Abra Rice '98 (played by Minnie Driver).
Here are some pics from the Innocence Project Fundraiser ...
(For more photos of the event, visit RWU's Flickr page!)
(For a Berkshire Fine Arts blog on the event, click here.)
Ronald O. Champagne, President of Roger Williams University; Betty Anne Waters '98; David A. Logan, Dean of RWU Law
Formerly director of RWU Law's clinical programs, Andy Horwitz (now Associate Dean of Academic Affairs) chats with his former student Abra Rice '98 - who later paid Andy very public tribute at the screening.
Dean Logan and SBA President Justin "JP" Pruett '11 show off their "Supporter of the Innocence Project" passes.
RWU Law Associate Dean Horwitz addressed reception attendees on the vital ongoing work of The Innocence Project.
"Conviction" Producer Dama Claire, who flew in from Los Angeles for the event, with Betty Anne Waters '98, and RWU Law Dean Logan
Professor Emeritus Bob Kent enjoys an affectionate moment with his former students and the night's two guests of honor, Betty Anne Waters '98 (left) and Abra Rice '98 (right).
Following the reception, attendees headed to the theater (escorted by law student volunteers) where they joined a crowd of 300 or so to see the Advance Screening of this remarkable movie. While there were a number of excellent performances, Sam Rockwell as Betty Anne’s volatile brother Kenny, has to be Oscar-worthy. Among the many highlights: the gripping scene when state protective service officers grab up the siblings to put them in separate foster homes; the cops decision to arrest Kenny while in church for his grandfather’s funeral; the effort to get an alcoholic woman (Juliette Lewis) to recant her testimony, who -- despite being zonked -- rather soberly asks what the statute of limitations is for perjury - and, of course, seeing Hilary in an extended close-up scene, wearing a "Roger Williams University School of Law" sweatshirt!
To top off a remarkable evening, three amazing women -- Betty Anne and Abra, joined by one of the film’s producers, Dama Claire (also a lawyer!) -- shared their stories in a candid and heartfelt Q&A session before a rapt audience.
Dean David Logan, "Conviction" Producer Dama Claire, and Steven Feinberg, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Film and Television Office, gather with RWU Law student volunteers at Providence Place Cinemas.
Betty Anne Waters '98 and Abra Rice '98, just before the Q & A following the Rhode Island Advance Screening of "Conviction."