On Nov. 5, Bernard Garrett Jr. was onstage at an entertainment industry event with George Nolfi, who directed the new Apple original movie The Banker. The film tells the story of Garrett Jr.’s. father, a black man who recruited a white man to front his growing financial business some six decades ago in a pre-Civil Rights Act America. Garrett Jr., initially billed as a co-producer of The Banker, was supposed to be one of its faces, along with stars Samuel L. Jackson and Anthony Mackie, during the film’s press tour.
Since the Nov. 5 event, though, Garrett Jr.’s credit has disappeared from publicity materials, further appearances have been canceled, and on Wednesday the film’s Thursday night AFI Film Festival premiere was scrapped by Apple.
Garrett Jr.’s half-sisters, roughly 15 years his junior, have recently made Apple aware of their claim that when he was a young man living in their home, he sexually molested them over the course of a few years. The sisters made the claim in connection with separate allegations that the timeline of the film was tweaked in order to leave the girls and their mother out of the story and instead feature Bernard Garrett Sr.’s first wife, even though he had already divorced her by the time of some of the events depicted in the film… Apple was informed of Cynthia Garrett’s concerns via an attorney who asked that the tech giant shelve the movie.
The film is said to be based on hours of interviews with the late Garrett Sr., as well as his life rights and court documents.
Cynthia Garrett, formerly an interviewer on MTV and VH1 who has since founded Cynthia Garrett Ministries and has spoken publicly to groups worldwide, sometimes recounting her years of alleged sexual abuse, says she is hoping that Hollywood rallies around her cause in the midst of the #MeToo movement.
MacDailyNews Take: Films based on the lives of people are not raw footage of actual events. They are not even documentaries. Timelines are altered, characters are added and removed, and events are changed, shortened, heightened, dramatized, reordered, eliminated, etc. because a film is an artwork, not a piece of courtroom evidence.
Apple is right to be cautious and review the matter, but the film should eventually be seen regardless. If Apple can work out a way in which Garrett Jr., if proven guilty, will not profit, forfeits profits, or donates his profits from the film to a program or programs aimed at helping victims of sexual abuse, that may be a way forward.