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The Courtroom, directed by Lee Sunday Evans official trailer
The Courtroom, directed by Lee Sunday Evans

The Courtroom, directed by acclaimed theater director Lee Sunday Evans (Dance Nation, Oratorio for Living Things), with a screenplay by Arian Moayed (Tony Award®-nominated actor and beloved as Stewy on the Emmy Award®winning Succession, and Todd Spodek of Inventing Anna), is an official selection of the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival.

This ground-breaking film is a riveting hybrid of genres – a non-fiction story about one woman’s agonizing journey through the U.S. immigration court system, which led to seven states amending their voter registration laws, told as a gripping, emotional narrative feature.

Originally a live theater piece, the film follows Elizabeth Keathley’s (Kristin Villanueva) real-life court proceedings which have an uncannily effective dramatic structure that Evans and Moayed use to highlight a fascinating legal question at the heart of her case. Keathley incorrectly checked one box on a form at the local DMV when applying to get a State ID – several months later, she received a voter card in the mail and proceeded to vote in the next congressional election. The brilliant, unusual defense that her lawyer Richard Hanus (Linda Powell) uses in her defense raises profound questions about the limitations of immigration law.

Actress Kristin Villanueva gives a breakout performance as Elizabeth Keathley. Her dogged lawyer Richard Hanus (Linda Powell)anchors the story, weaving together a heart-wrenching story of a woman fighting to stay in the country with her new family, with a wildly compelling legal drama that ultimately cracks open unsettling questions about pushing against the limitations of immigration law.

Elizabeth’s deeply loyal husband is indelibly played by Michael Chernus (Severance). The lawyer from the Department of Homeland Security in immigration court (Mike Braun) and the Immigration Judge (Marsha Stephanie Blake, When They See Us) surprisingly lack any cliché hallmarks of government boogeymen, with neither character being easy fodder for politicized lines drawn in the sand. The strength of these performances is matched by Kathleen Chalfant and BD Wong who also make electrifying and unexpected appearances later in the film.

Watch the official trailer for The Courtroom.

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