|Directed by||George Nolfi|
|Cinematography||Charlotte Bruus Christensen|
|Edited by||Joel Viertel|
|Music by||H. Scott Salinas|
|Distributed by||Apple TV+|
The Banker is a 2020 American drama film directed, co-written and produced by George Nolfi. The film stars Anthony Mackie, Nicholas Hoult, Nia Long, Jessie T. Usher and Samuel L. Jackson. The story follows Joe Morris (Jackson) and Bernard S. Garrett Sr. (Mackie), two of the first African-American bankers in the United States.
The film was originally set to premiere at AFI Fest on November 21, 2019, ahead of a limited theatrical release in early December. One day before its premiere, Apple TV+ cancelled the festival and postponed the release amid sexual abuse allegations against Bernard Garrett Jr., the son of Bernard Garrett Sr. and a co-producer of the film, whose credit was later removed from the film. These childhood sexual abuse charges were made by Garrett Jr.'s half-sisters, Cynthia Garrett and Sheila Garrett, and supported by Garrett's wife who is still alive and was present during events depicted in the film.
It was released in a limited theatrical release on March 6, 2020, before digital streaming on March 20, 2020, by Apple TV+.
In 1954, Bernard Garrett wants to get into real estate but encounters racism that prevents him from being a successful real estate investor. After a chance encounter with wealthy club owner Joe Morris, he convinces Joe to be his co-investor. Together they convince Matt Steiner, a white man, to pose as the front of the company in meetings to facilitate the sales. Eventually, they become extremely successful in Los Angeles real estate, with the two teaching Matt the basics of real estate investing. The three secure a number of properties in L.A. and effectively integrate a number of previously segregated neighborhoods by selling and renting to black families. After this success, he sets his sights on the local bank in his Texas hometown to give loans to the black residents. Racist bank practices had excluded black people from receiving loans for small businesses and homeownership. Joe protests the idea at first but eventually relents and the three move to Texas.
Matt buys the bank, fronting for Bernard and Joe, but the local townspeople are extremely suspicious of this move. A bank executive tracks the records of the loans and discovers that they're giving loans to black people, follows Matt and discovers that his partners are black, then threatens them with exposure which would cause "a run on the bank." Matt persuades Joe and Bernard to purchase a second bank and put him in charge of it despite his inexperience. The racist bank executive calls in a federal investigator who checks the records of Matt's bank and discovers numerous infractions attributable to Matt's carelessness. Matt, Bernard and Joe get arrested for violating federal banking laws.
Facing a 50-year prison term, Matt takes a plea deal, falsely testifying that he was duped by Bernard and Joe. The next day, Bernard testifies passionately about black people being given the same opportunity for upward mobility as whites. He and Joe are convicted and serve time in prison; upon release, they go with Bernard's wife Eunice to live in the Bahamas in two homes which Matt had purchased for them with money Bernard had entrusted to him for that purpose the night before Bernard's testimony.
It was announced in October 2018 that George Nolfi would direct the film, which he co-wrote with Niceole Levy. Samuel L. Jackson, Anthony Mackie, Nicholas Hoult, Nia Long and Taylor Black were set to star, with filming beginning in Atlanta. The film was partially shot in Douglasville, Georgia and Newnan, Georgia. Additional casting was announced in November.
In July 2019, Apple TV+ acquired distribution rights to the film. It was set to have its world premiere at AFI Fest on November 21, 2019, followed by a limited theatrical release on December 6, 2019, and digital streaming in January 2020. However, after claims of sexual assault were made against one of the producers of the film, Bernard Garrett's son Bernie Jr., by his half-sisters, the premiere was cancelled and the film was pulled from the schedule.
Bernie Jr's half-sisters also accused the filmmakers of writing their mother, Linda, out of the movie. He denies the claims of sexual assault, citing a family conflict surrounding Linda's infidelity and subsequent separation from his father, and the filmmakers maintain that the account of events depicted in the film are the result of independent research and not Bernie Jr's recollection.
The film was eventually released in a limited theatrical release on March 6, 2020, followed by digital streaming on March 20, 2020.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 79% with an average score of 6.8/10, based on 77 reviews. The site's critical consensus reads: "The Banker's timid approach to dramatizing its fact-based story is often outweighed by the trio of strong performances at its core." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 59 out of 100, based on 19 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
|Award||Date of ceremony||Category||Recipient(s)||Result||Ref.|
|Camerimage||November 21, 2020||Main Competition||The Banker||Nominated|||
|Georgia Film Critics Association||March 12, 2021||Oglethorpe Award for Excellence in Georgia Cinema||George Nolfi, Niceole Levy, David Lewis Smith, and Stan Younger||Nominated|||
|NAACP Image Awards||March 27, 2021||Outstanding Independent Motion Picture||The Banker||Won|||
|Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture||Anthony Mackie||Nominated|
|Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture||Nia Long||Nominated|
|Outstanding Ensemble Cast in a Motion Picture||The Banker||Nominated|
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