Director Tom Shadyac chronicles the true story of All-American football player Brian Banks who was falsely accused and convicted of rape and spent nearly six years in prison before being exonerated and finally reaching his goal of playing in the NFL.
A former middle linebacker at Long Beach Poly High in California, Banks lost a scholarship to USC in 2002 after a former classmate, Wanetta Gibson, accused him of raping her. Banks never wavered in maintaining his innocence during his time in prison, which he spent locked away despite lack of evidence to support the accusation.
According to Sports Illustrated, Banks spent five years and two months in prison and five years on monitored parole before Gibson admitted she falsely accused Banks and the alleged rape never happened. With the help of Justin Brooks and the California Innocence Project, Banks’ conviction was overturned in 2012, his name was cleared, and he was finally free to pursue his dreams in the NFL.
Banks signed with the Atlanta Falcons in 2013 and played in four preseason games before being released. The following year, he joined the National Football League Department of Operations.
During a speech at the 25th annual Essence Festival in New Orleans, Banks described the film as a “full circle” moment. “It’s really surreal to have gone through such a traumatic experience… to come full circle and be here now with the opportunity this share this story.”
Banks’ ultimate goal was to “not only to get our story out there but to share this story for other people who are currently voiceless, who are experiencing a similar situation.”
He continued, “For every young person of color who has had an encounter with a police officer or has been miscategorized or judged, this is one of those films where we talk about a real-life story that so many people can connect to and relate to. We need more stories like these; real-life stories turned into art so that we can learn.”
The film features Aldis Hodge in the lead role and Greg Kinnear as the defense attorney who worked to prove Banks’ innocence. A release date has not yet been reported.