Just Mercy Wins ABA Silver Gavel Award


The American Bar Association announced today that Just Mercy is the winner of the 2020 Silver Gavel Award for Drama & Literature. We’re honored that the world’s leading legal association has chosen Just Mercy as the year’s best film that illuminates the rule of law and the importance of justice in our society.

“I’m thrilled that the ABA has recognized Just Mercy for this prestigious award and recognition,” said EJI Director Bryan Stevenson, who wrote the bestselling book on which the movie is based. “I’ve been deeply moved by the responses the film has generated and the impact it’s had, especially in communities where people are vulnerable and where unjust inequality is so evident. The letters and emails we’ve received at EJI have been very affirming and energizing, and the ABA Silver Gavel Award adds something very meaningful.”

This year marks the 62nd annual presentation of the Silver Gavel Awards, which recognize outstanding efforts to foster public understanding of law and the legal system.

The Gavel Awards are highly selective—this year the ABA is presenting only six Silver Gavels and five Honorable Mentions among 23 finalists identified from 188 entries received in all eligible categories. The categories include books, commentary, documentaries, drama and literature, magazines, multimedia, newspapers, radio, and television.

True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality also received an Honorable Mention in the Documentaries category.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic and resulting social distancing, the 2020 ABA Silver Gavel Awards will not be presented in-person at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. Instead, ABA President Judy Perry Martinez will present the awards in a virtual event on Tuesday, July 21.

Based on the bestselling memoir by EJI director Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy presents the unforgettable true story of Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan) and the case of Walter McMillian (Academy Award winner Jamie Foxx), who was convicted and sentenced to death for a crime he did not commit.

Just Mercy is the winner of four NAACP Image Awards, the National Board of Review’s Freedom of Expression Award, and the American Black Film Festival’s Movie of the Year Award.

The movie is beloved by audiences, scoring a rare A+ CinemaScore from audiences and earning a 99% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. And critics have praised Just Mercy as a “devastatingly affecting drama” that’s inspiring audiences with “a stirring resolution, based on the certainty that hatred, in all its terrible power, will never be as powerful as justice.”

Just Mercy was an Official Selection at the American Film Institute Fest and Toronto International Film Festival. It won the Audience Award at the Twin Cities Film Fest; Audience Award for Best Feature at the Chicago International Film Fest, Best of the Fest Audience Award for Best Film at the St. Louis International Film Festival, Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature at the Virginia Film Festival, Overall Audience Favorite at the 2019 Mill Valley Film Festival, Spotlight Film Audience Award at the New Orleans Film Festival, and Overall & Special Presentation Audience Choice Award at the Heartland International Film Festival.