“This story is so deep and so meaningful that you just couldn’t resist telling it” said Burden writer/director Andrew Heckler on why he chose this project as his feature directorial debut. “It’s a story of hope and it’s a universal story that I felt really needed to be told.”

Accompanying Heckler at Deadline’s Sundance Studio were film’s producer Robbie Brenner and cast Garrett Hedlund, Forest Whitaker, Usher Raymond, Andrea Riseborough, Crystal Fox, and Austin Hebert.

The pic follows Mike Burden (Hedlund) who is rising through the ranks of the Ku Klux Klan in small-town South Carolina, 1996. He has a change of heart when he falls for Judy (Riseborough), a single mother who stirs his social conscience. His violent break from the Klan sends him into the open arms of Reverend Kennedy (Whitaker), who offers him safety and a shot at redemption.

“The whole issue of intolerance and racism and whether or not you can break through that when you’ve been taught to live like that. Whether you can change the mechanism inside of yourselves to be able to care or find tolerance and love, said Whitaker, expounding on the film’s universal message.  “If you can forgive atrocious acts, if you can forgive people who harmed you and hurt you, and continue to do so, but still believe, I think that was what was key about the movie.”

See the rest of the interview above.

The Deadline Studio is presented by Hyundai. Special thanks to Calii Love.