Local filmmaker shares his work on powerful documentary film, ‘Emanuel’

Local News

(WSYR-TV) — This week is the fourth anniversary of an unspeakable tragedy that wounded a community and shook our nation.  Nine people were killed during a prayer service in Charleston, South Carolina on June 17, 2015, at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. 

The survivors are telling their story in a compelling documentary called “Emanuel” from executive producers Viola Davis and Stephen Curry. One local filmmaker from Fayetteville had an integral part in bringing the film to life.

Jonathan Cipiti spent three years working on the film.

“Its been the biggest blessing to hold that responsibility to tell a story that has literally changed my life,” Cipiti said.

Cipiti turned more than 250 hours of interviews, images and video into a powerful, transformative and unexpected story of forgiveness.

“There were moments I was just sitting in front of the computer, just crying, which is rare when you’re listening to hundreds of interviews for editing, everything just stopped me in my tracks and I realized that there was something different here,” Cipiti said.

Cipiti said working on this project changed his life.

“What’s remarkable about this story is the families forgave Dylann Roof, that’s what’s different about this than a lot of these other tragedies that have happened.  It was a miracle, I realized I’m telling a story of forgiveness and I have to live that,” Cipiti said.  “They had peace amidst the biggest tragedy that you can imagine yet they are not bound by the person who hurt them.”

Watch his story above.

To see the trailer, click here.

“Emanuel” premiered in limited release across the country this week with rave reviews.  We’re told it will be released to a streaming service in the future.

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