As we reported in August, John Singleton has taken over directorial duties from Carl Franklin on Tulia, a drama starring Billy Bob Thornton and Halle Berry about a real-life 1999 drug sting on a small Texas town in which a large chunk of the town's African-American population wound up wrongfully incarcerated.
We spoke to Kelly Whalen, the co-director of a documentary called Tulia, Texas that is based on the same set of events, at the AFI Film Fest in Dallas and she gave us some inside scoop on the story. "In 1998 there was an undercover agent that moved into town and made cases against 46 people who lived in this community for drug dealing, and 39 of them were black," explains Whalen. "Years later after many people received the maximum punishment in prison, this evidence started to surface, troubling evidence about [the agent]."
"A few months into our starting the project took off. The court of appeals granted this big evidentiary hearing to air the dirty laundry around the Narc, so it was incredible," Whalen continues. "The legal case basically shows that you can't trust his word, that he's a liar. We actually saw everyone released from prison that was still in prison.They got full pardons. The cases don't hold up." Posted 04.02.08 by reelz
Although it's unclear how much theatrical license Singleton will be taking with the Tulia story, Whalen did say that his screenwriter, Karen Croner, has asked for a copy of her documentary. Whether she's just watching it for research or bits of the documentary will make their way into Tulia remains to be seen.