‘Remand’ Wins Best Doc at the AFF

This past week, our own Randy Brewer, executive producer of Remand, traveled to Dallas, TX to watch the screening of the film at the African Film Festival and accept the award for Best Documentary alongside the film’s stars, Tumusiime Henry and Jim Gash. Remand has been a film project that has spanned two years and two continents. It has endured the trials of sending film crews to Uganda twice to capture all of the incredible stories. This film couldn’t have happened without the help of key creatives and believers in this story, especially Angela Bassett who lent her harrowing voice as the narrator of the film. It has been an incredible experience to get to show people our hard work.

Today, we’ll hear from Randy Brewer about how Remand came to be and its journey since being finished.

Q: How did this project first come to your attention?
The first time I heard about the project was from Jim Gash who came to Revolution Pictures in Spring of 2014. We had a mutual friend, and he told me his whole story. I couldn’t believe how powerful this story was. I was compelled to try and find a way for us to tell it, even though the film didn’t have a lot of funds. It was the type of story that Revolution Pictures wants to be an advocate for. We basically started filming after raising some funds in the summer of 2014. We raised more funds and shot again in 2015. The film finished in 2016.

 

Q: What was the coordination like between the people in the US and Uganda?
The most difficult thing was getting access to the prisons. It was the first time a camera crew had ever gone inside. It was a process of gaining trust. Jim, Bob Goff, and the Pepperdine students all wanted to be alongside them. The goal wasn’t to go over there and to chastise, it was to help. We asked them what they needed to help solve the problems. Bob Goff always says that we ought to help people alongside them, instead of being their saviors. Pepperdine’s program has built a lot of trust with the Ugandan government, so that’s how we were able to coordinate between the two continents.

 

 

Q: What did your involvement in this story mean for you?
My involvement was mainly putting together the best team possible and overseeing some of the story in the edit. The major takeaway for me was the good that can be done when people come together and solve problems together.  That inspires me as a filmmaker. There are projects I’m developing now because I want to use the power of storytelling to engage culture and bring about change the same way. More stories like this need to be told. I want to tell stories about the good guys out there doing something.

 

Q: How do you hope this film will change people’s perspectives?
When the Pepperdine students saw the people on remand, they didn’t just sympathize and say, “Oh, look how awful that is.” They engaged and went over there to help them. They saw how they could use their gifts to help. Jim did the same thing, he got to know Henry’s story and how wronged he was. He didn’t just say how sad it was, but he traveled back and forth and worked diligently to change Henry’s circumstances and clear his name. People want to do good every day and see stuff that could use their help, but they get upset and move on. The difference is not just spewing about what’s wrong, but about the people who get up and go do something about it. What I want to see is more people rising up and affecting change in their communities.

 

 

Q: What was it like at the AFF and how did it feel to win Best Documentary?
The reception of the film was really awesome to Henry and Jim and to their story. Jim has a book called Divine Collision, and there was a lot of people who picked up the book after the film. Henry signed tons of autographs with a big smile on his face. We had attorneys and different folks from Africa approach us about how they can engage and help with the project. Jim Gash was excited to see more folks like that who wanted to help because Uganda continues to work with Pepperdine Law and its students to reform their justice system. There were some amazing people and filmmakers that we met who loved the film. I had people come up and tell me that they had no idea that there were prisons like that where people would be stuck for years like that. So, it was an incredible experience to see how far this powerful story that we’ve believed in for so long be recognized in this way. We just really appreciated the opportunity to share Remand.

by Benton Olivares