(2008 - USA)
Lena Baker was an African American maid who was
executed for murder by the State of Georgia in 1945 for killing her
employer, Ernest Knight. At her trial she claimed that he had imprisoned
and threatened to shoot her should she attempt to leave, whereupon she
took his gun and shot him. Although Knight was not liked in the town, a
white man had been killed by a black woman, something that was
intolerable to the segregationist townsfolk Lena Baker was charged with
capital murder and stood trial on August 14, 1944. The all-white male
jury convicted her and she was sentenced to death.
In the 2000s, members of her family petitioned to have a pardon granted
by the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles, seeing the original verdict
as racist. This was granted in 2005, with the Parole Board suggesting a
verdict of manslaughter would have been more appropriate.
- Tichina Arnold......................Lena Baker
- Peter Coyote.................Ernest B. Knight
- Michael Rooker.............................Sheriff
- Beverly Todd....................Lena's
Hollywood Reporter, November
Filmmakers in southern Georgia are unearthing a forgotten chapter in
black history and revitalizing their local economy with the fact-based
indie feature "The Lena Baker Story." Tichina Arnold ("Wild Hogs," the
CW's "Everybody Hates Chris") plays Baker, the first Georgia woman sent
to the electric chair. She became a virtual sex slave to her white
employer (Peter Coyote) and killed him, claiming self-defense. Baker was
pardoned by the state two years ago, about 60 years after her execution.
Michael Rooker co-stars as the sheriff who arrested her, and Beverly
Todd plays her mother.
Writer-director-producer Ralph Wilcox's film, also produced by Dennis
Johnson, marks an important step toward revitalizing one of the poorest
districts in the U.S. The $2.5 million biopic is the first feature from
local production groups Laughing Crow Entertainment and Schuster's Cash
and is the first project filmed in the new 22,000-square-foot
Jokara-Micheaux production facility in Colquitt, Ga.
"The film is a cradle-to-grave story that offers a real perspective on
Lena as opposed to just one incident," Wilcox said. "Race does play a
part, but this story is really about a woman born between a rock and a
Wilcox adapted the screenplay from Lela Bond Philips' eponymous
biography and hired crew members from Los Angeles and several southern
states. He's now in discussions with indie distributors for a theatrical
"Peter Coyote, a consummate actor, plays the
crude and controlling Elliot Arthur with great
finesse, making us believe that he really feels that
he has the absolute right to possess Lena in any way
that he chooses."
Coyote Web Site ]