Conviction   

by director Tony Goldwyn

Nine years ago, my wife Jane saw a segment on “60 Minutes” about a single mother and high school drop out who put herself through law school and became an attorney in an eighteen-year struggle to free her brother from a life sentence for murder.

When Jane told me the story of Betty Anne Waters, the first question that seared through my mind was, “Eighteen years? What if she was wrong? What if the brother was guilty of the crime for which he was incarcerated? Would this woman’s faith have been misplaced? Would her struggle and sacrifice have been in vain?” For me the answer was a resounding no. The mere fact of her unstinting love and faith in her brother was in its very expression more significant, more spiritually sustaining than the ultimate result of his exoneration. Who of us has the courage and the commitment to love another person so completely, without question or pause? This is what makes Betty Anne such a unique and inspiring woman. She’s not a crusader, as she will be the first to tell you. She’s simply a woman who loved her brother and did what she had to do.

I have long been fascinated and moved by the bond between brothers and sisters—that connection that stems from a common womb, a common experience of life that precedes conscious memory, a relationship whose roots are fused together through a shared gene pool and a mutual experience of the joy and trauma of childhood.

Kenny Waters’ ultimate guilt or innocence was beside the point for me. Betty Anne knew her brother was innocent. For me, it made no difference whether she was right or wrong. The simple fact of her faith is what compelled me to tell the story. For Betty Anne and Kenny shared what each of us craves most in life: to be truly known by another person, to be cherished and embraced for who we are—unadorned, fully human.

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