Narrated by Jenifer Lewis (“Black-ish”) and produced by Malcolm D. Lee (“Space Jam 2,” “Girls Trip”) alongside Pollock, “Finding Kendrick Johnson” is the product of an undercover, four-year investigation into the case of Kendrick Johnson, who was 17 years old when he was found dead in a rolled-up gym mat at Lowndes High School in 2013.
The documentary follows the course of events after an initial — and widely considered to be botched — investigation when the state of Georgia ruled KJ’s death accidental from positional asphyxiation. As shown in the documentary, the Johnson family hired their own forensic pathologist, who not only concluded Johnson’s death to be from non-accidental blunt force trauma, but openly spoke about the fact that any medical examiner should not rule a death due to positional asphyxiation unless the lungs weigh three to four times the normal weight. According to the state of Georgia’s own medical records, Johnson’s lungs were a normal weight. To this day, the state has not changed the cause of death on Johnson’s death certificate.
After immense public pressure, the Johnson case was reopened in March 2021 by Lowndes County Sheriff Ashley Paulk, and Pollock has expressed hopes that “Finding Kendrick Johnson” will “shed light on the new evidence he uncovered during his investigation.” Those findings include: an un-redacted FBI report, missing video footage from Lowndes High School and testimony from government whistleblower Mitch Credle, a DC homicide detective who investigated the case and has been openly speaking about what he discovered, including what he believes was an obstruction of justice within the FBI.
In a statement announcing the acquisition, which comes after a successful U.S. theatrical release and Academy-qualifying Los Angeles run last month, Pollock said, “Our entire team is just thrilled to be working with Starz again. After the amazing job they did with my last film ‘Stranger Fruit’ [about the 2014 police killing of Michael Brown], it was a no-brainer to bring them my next one. Starz is a network that understands our culture like no one else in the game.”
Producer Lee seconded Pollock’s sentiments, adding, “The case of KJ is truly one of the most important stories of our time.”
In addition to Pollock and Lee, “Finding Kendrick Johnson” is also produced by Amy McCampbell and Morgan J. Freeman. Lewis is also an executive producer on the project, alongside Hill Harper, Elizabeth Hurwitz, Dia Sokol Savage, Kurt Engfehr and Lenny Beckerman. The documentary, a Boom Content production, is edited by Pollock and Kurt Engfehr, with illustrations by Nikkolas Smith, cinematography by Dennis A. Mills and an original score by Dan Edinberg.