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REMAND Wins Best Documentary

July 10, 2017  | 3 min read

DALLAS, TX – “I have been just waiting, praying, waiting, praying–and now our prayers have been answered.” Nine years ago, Henry Tumusiime was a Ugandan boy remanded to prison to wait for trial for two murders that he did not commit. Meanwhile, Jim Gash enjoyed a comfortable life as an L.A. lawyer and Pepperdine Law professor. The two would meet in a turn of divine collision after Henry had been imprisoned for two years. As Henry was losing hope and praying for a sign from God, Jim felt a powerful urge to respond to a call for justice. Seven years later, their story has been cemented as a book, documentary, and as an example of advocacy in action to share with the world. The rights to make a feature film based on the book have been acquired by a Canadian filmmaker. REMAND, the documentary, tells the true story of how Henry and Jim, separated by an ocean, thousands of miles, and differing cultures, came together to inspire justice reform for an entire country.

On July 3, The African Festival (TAFF) recognized REMAND with the award for best documentary. TAFF is a nonprofit organization that focuses on films that celebrate African culture, landmarks, and historic leaders, as well as films that address social, economic, ethnic, political, religious, or health issues affecting Africa. The ceremony took place at the Dallas City Performance Hall, and both Jim and Henry were on hand to accept the award. They were also joined onstage by the film’s producer, Randy Brewer from Revolution Pictures. Brewer told the audience, “REMAND is a story about real people, and when love conquers all, and good conquers evil. That’s what true filmmaking can do–bring people together and tell great stories.” While Angela Bassett, the film’s Golden Globe winning narrator, could not be present to accept the award, she sent her message of gratitude: “REMAND highlights the important work that’s being done in Africa for liberty, justice, and the rule of law. Let us all dedicate ourselves to helping those for whom justice is still only an aspiration.” Gash concluded the acceptance speeches by thanking Henry, whom he described as the most courageous person he has ever met.

Since 2010, Gash has traveled to Uganda an astounding 21 times. Gash reminisces about his first visit, explaining it was meant to be a “one-and-done” voluntourism type trip to provide legal services at a juvenile prison. In the foreword of his book Divine Collision, Bob Goff writes, “It won’t take you long to figure out Jim doesn’t walk; he leaps.” Jim leapt so far with his work as an American attorney in Ugandan Court that he even moved his family to Uganda for six months in order to ensure that cases like Henry’s kept moving forward. In 2013, Jim received the Warren Christopher Award, which is presented to California’s international lawyer of the year. Today, he leads Pepperdine Law’s Global Justice Program, traveling each summer with a team of students and lawyers to bring access to justice to Ugandan prisoners awaiting trial. Since 2014, more than 8,000 Ugandan prisoners’ cases have been resolved as a result Pepperdine’s partnership with the Ugandan Judiciary.

With such a buzz around the documentary, REMAND has been slated to screen at film festivals worldwide, including the Toronto African Film and Music Festival this August, and DOCUTAH (St. George, Utah) and the Global Peace Film Festival (Orlando, Florida) in September. The documentary has even been purchased by the National Geographic Society to premiere across southern Europe. The film will also show as a part of the Law School’s Launch Week activities for new 1L students.

The story of REMAND has proven to be monumental not only in the lives of Henry and Jim, but to countless individuals born into limiting circumstances across Uganda, as well as those committed to bringing justice to the developing world. In his acceptance speech in Dallas last week, Henry issued a challenge to all those touched by the documentary and its message, saying, “Above all, I would pray that it doesn’t stop at watching a film, but at encouraging everybody that there is hope always at the end of a struggle.”