By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act August 6, 2014 at 7:30PM
2 years ago, we profiled a then upcoming documentary project on Brian Banks, when he raised over $47,000 to tell his story of a promising football career that was derailed by a rape accusation that would eventually be recanted by the accuser, who admitted she lied about the entire incident - but only after Banks was convicted and spent over 5 years in prison, for a crime that he didn't commit, and had to register as a sex offender.
As Banks himself said 2 years ago, when he sought to raise money to produce a documentary that would tell his story: "When I was 16 years old, I was just like any other typical high school junior, but I played football for one of the greatest high school football programs in the country. Dozens of colleges were actively recruiting me. I had dreams of playing football in the NFL after college. Then the unimaginable happened. I was accused of a crime, a terrible crime, that I didn't commit. A female student accused me of raping her during summer school. I was tried as an adult, convicted, and was locked away for five years and two months. I lost everything: my hopes, my dreams, my entire world... With the help of the wonderful people at the California Innocence Project I am on a mission to take my life back. I need to make this film so I can tell the whole world my story as I experienced it; a story that tells it exactly as it happened, so that everyone who has ever known me can understand the truth. I want to finally set the record straight. I hope my story can serve as a catalyst for change.
The film isn't complete yet, in part because, as Banks shared in a recent update, what he initially thought would be a *small* project has become something much larger, as more and more people learned of his story, leading to him trying out for NFL teams, eventually joining the Atlanta Falcons for training camp last summer (2013). He would go on to play in 4 games last football season, realizing his dream of playing in the NFL!
He's also been speaking publicly, sharing his story at schools, organizations, and events across the country, meeting with politicians and lawmakers, helping to bring awareness to wrongful convictions in hopes of change.
Most recently, his documentary feature attracted producer, Michele Farinola - executive producer of the 2011 Oscar-winning documentary, "Undefeated." She comes to the project with over 20 years of experience in the film and television industry, and should assist in seeing that Banks' film is fully realized in the best possible light.
In addition, announced just today, as if he's not already busy enough, Lee Daniels has signed on to direct a scripted feature film based on Banks' real-life story.
The project is currently out to writers.
"Lee is a filmmaker who looks at challenging circumstances with honesty, compassion, and hope," said Amy Baer ("Last Vegas"), who will produce the feature. "He has an emotional connection to Brian’s story that I’m certain will result in a powerful and redemptive film. I’m thrilled to be partnered with him."
Added Banks: "All I ever wanted was to prove my innocence. Telling my story in the form of a feature film is beyond my wildest dreams. Having Lee Daniels come on board to direct the film is so exciting and such an honor."
No ETA yet, and no casting potentials.
In the meantime, watch the 5-minute Kickstarter video Banks used to raise funds for his documentary, 2 years ago, summarizing his story and new mission: