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‘The Banker’ Cast and Crew Defend Film Against Allegations of Inaccuracy

The movie isn't based on accounts from protagonist Bernard Garrett's children, but rather firsthand information from the man himself, they wrote.

The Banker

“The Banker”

AFI FEST

The Banker” director George Nolfi and the movie’s cast, crew, producers, and writers signed an open letter published Monday defending the film based on the life of African American businessman Bernard Garrett. Distributor Apple delayed its release last month after Garrett’s daughter Cynthia Garrett accused her half brother Bernard Garrett Jr., one of the film’s producers, of sexual abuse and helping craft an inaccurate narrative of their father’s life. The filmmakers in their letter wrote the film was based not on the memories of the Garrett children, but from interviews with Garrett himself, and transcripts, court rulings, and media reports. (Via Variety).

In the statement, Nolfi, cast members Anthony Mackie (who protrays Garrett), Samuel L. Jackson, Nicholas Hoult, Nia Long, and others, expressed sympathy for Cynthia Garrett in light of allegations that Garrett Jr. sexually abused her as a child, but defended the film and “its positive message of empowerment.”

“Though we have no way of knowing what may have transpired between Mr. Garrett’s children in the 1970s, including the allegations of abuse we have recently been made aware of, our hearts go out to anyone who has suffered,” the letter reads.

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Apple bought the film earlier this year, positioning it as a crown jewel in its burgeoning Apple TV+ streaming service. The tech giant was already pumping money into an awards campaign for the movie ahead of its planned AFI Fest premiere November 20, which was abruptly cancelled as the allegations surfaced. The company later postponed the planned limited theatrical release.

The film is based on the lives of entrepreneur Garrett and his business partner Joe Morris’ (Jackson) thwarting of the racial limitations of the 1950s. The pair recruit working-class white man Matt Steiner (Hoult) to pose as the head of their business empire while the two moguls act as a janitor and chauffeur. After making it big in California real estate, the men secretly purchase two banks in Texas in an aim to provide loans to the black community there. But with success comes the unforeseen risk of exposure and the threat of losing everything.

Niceole R. Levy, one of the screenwriters, at the IndieWire ‘Consider This’ FYC Brunch earlier in November discussed some of the research she and her colleagues conducted for the movie, which involved transcripts from hearings after the men’s scheme was discovered.

“I did went out and dug up a whole bunch of research for us to read through,” she said. “The tone of the Congressional transcript from the hearings is very much ‘How dare you, how dare you think you can get away with this.’ I think it was very much, ‘We don’t want anyone else to think they can do this. We don’t want anyone else to get ideas about going out and buying these banks and thinking they’re going to determine what happens with our money.'”

Here’s the full text of the letter:

We set out to tell a story we were very passionate about, recounting the remarkable lives of Bernard Garrett Sr and Joe Morris, and their ground-breaking achievements combating racial inequality in the 1950s and 60s. Though we have no way of knowing what may have transpired between Mr. Garrett’s children in the 1970s, including the allegations of abuse we have recently been made aware of, our hearts go out to anyone who has suffered. The film itself is not based on the recollections of any of Bernard Garrett Sr’s children, but rather, on recorded interviews with Bernard Garrett Sr himself, conducted in 1995, supported by congressional transcripts, court rulings, and other media articles from the era. We stand by the film, and its positive message of empowerment.

Signed by:
George Nolfi – Director, Producer, Writer
Anthony Mackie – Actor, Producer
Samuel L. Jackson – Actor, Executive Producer
Nicholas Hoult – Actor
Nia Long – Actor
Scott Daniel Johnson – Actor
Jessie T. Usher – Actor
Colm Meaney – Actor
Paul Ben-Victor – Actor
James DuMont – Actor
GregAlan Williams – Actor
Bill Kelly – Actor
Michael Harney – Actor
David Maldonado – Actor
Gralen Bryant Banks – Actor
Rhoda Griffis – Actor
Joel Viertel – Producer, Editor
Brad Feinstein – Producer
David Lewis Smith – Producer, Writer
Will Greenfield – Executive Producer, Unit Production Manager
Carlo Hart – Co-Producer
Stan Younger – Writer
Niceole Levy – Writer
Brad Caleb Kane – Writer
Charlotte Bruus Christensen – Director of Photography
John Collins – Production Designer
Aieisha Li – Costume Designer
H. Scott Salinas – Composer
Kim Coleman – Casting Director
Tonya Cryer – Hair Department Head
LaToya Henderson – Make-Up Department Head
Stephen Moore – 1st Assistant Director
Andi Crumbley – Art Director
Lynne Mitchell – Set Decorator
Mike Scherschel – Prop Master
Kayla Gueho – Location Manager
David Martin – Key Assistant Location Manager
Harrison Huffman – Production Supervisor
Huxley Rodriguez – Production Coordinator
Serena Simpson – Sound Mixer
Chris Birdsong – Key Grip
Jon Lewis – Gaffer
Karlyn Exantus – Script Supervisor
Meagan Lewis – Local Casting Director Atlanta
Mary Jasionowski – Production Accountant
Chuck Jean – Post-Production Supervisor
Gordon Williams – Music Supervisor
Michael Hatzer – Supervising Digital Colorist
David Christopher Smith – Sound Designer, Re-Recording Mixer
Marti Humphrey – Supervising Sound Editor, Re-Recording Mixer
Christian Wood – Visual Effects Supervisor
Chris LeDoux – Associate Visual Effects Supervisor
Cindy Rago – Visual Effects Producer

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