Movies allowed me to feel less alone: 'Just Mercy' director


NEW DELHI: “Just Mercy” director Destin Daniel Cretton found a connection with Indian people and culture thanks to Mira Nairs “Monsoon Wedding”. He credits movies for opening up the whole world before him. The director, who will be helming Marvel’s first Asian-led superhero film, “Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings”, says films allowed him to feel less alone while growing up.

He added that movies made him realise that there are people in other places of the world who are experiencing the same things as him.

“When I was a kid growing up, movies allowed me to feel less alone in the world, and allowed me to realise that there are people in other areas around the world who are experiencing things just like me. And I’m always looking for stories that could potentially do that for somebody else, even if it’s just one person,” Cretton told IANS in an exclusive interview.

What were these experiences? “I grew up on an island in the middle of the Pacific. I grew up on Maui. I was only exposed to that (kind of) island lifestyle. It was really eye opening to just see a movie that took place (outside of that place), and even in California where I had never been to see,” he explained.

The director, who grew up in a Hawaiian town on the island of Maui, continued: “I remember the first time I watched ‘Monsoon Wedding’ and it was like ‘oh wow. People in India are loving and laughing and having a really unique sense of humour just like me’. It made me really feel connected to people… I think it allows me to grow as a person.”

Cretton, who is of Asian descent, is known for “Short Term 12” and “The Glass Castle”. Before jumping into Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), he will be serving up social justice with “Just Mercy”, which tells the true story of a lawyer attempting to free a man wrongfully convicted of the murder of a young girl.

The film follows life of Bryan Stevenson’s fight to free Walter McMillian, a man wrongly convicted of murder and sent to death row. Jordan has also produced the film and features in it. Warner Bros. Pictures will release the film in India on January 17. It stars Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx and Brie Larson.

“Just Mercy” is also the first major studio film made with the inclusion rider, the contractual provision mandating women, people of colour, members of the LGBTQ community and other underrepresented groups to be considered for the cast and crew positions.

Talking about the impact of the film, Cretton said: “It’s really exciting that people are responding to the movie and audiences have really responded in a surprising way. What’s the most exciting thing is that the movie is introducing people to a very real hero of mine, Bryan Stevenson, who is doing some of the most important work in our country right now. And it’s really exciting that people get to know him.” IANS