Devotion starring Jonathan Majors is bringing a real story that needs to be told to the big screen. The film tells “the harrowing true story of two elite US Navy fighter pilots during the Korean War, who make sacrifices to become Navy’s most celebrated wingmen.” One of the two men is Majors’ Jesse Brown, the first Black aviator to complete the U.S. Navy’s basic flight training program and the first Black naval officer killed in the Korean War.
During the film's TIFF World Premiere at Cinesphere Theatre, director JD Dillard and star Jonathan Majors spoke about the importance of putting the film together.
“This team has been working to bring the story to life and at the height of the pandemic they left their families,” said Dillard to the audience. “And they came to Savannah, Georgia to help bring a story that needed to be told out to life, so to them I’m forever indebted. We’re here tonight because of Jesse Brown, the Navy’s first black naval aviator and his wingman Tom Hudner.”
Bringing Brown's story to life is something that had a personal motivation and connection for Dillard himself.
“Impossibly, Jessie earned his wings in 1948, and the isolationism of that is a story I’d heard before. It’s one I heard at home, because 40 years after Jessie earned his wings in the US Navy, my dad earned his,” the director continued. “They were both boys who were taking the air shows at a very young age and witnessing the magic of flight they had the impossible dream of being in the cockpit themselves. So tonight is not just telling the story of those men, but one very, very near and dear to my heart.”
Majors said, “For those of you who are about to take in this story that the 1,500 of us spent so much time putting our hearts into, putting our minds into, putting our time– conjuring up spirits having conversations with ourselves and with our country and with our fellow kinsmen about in order bring something that is completely truthful, completely original, from the heart devotion– to me, and particularly the role of Jesse Brown represents a huge turning point for me in my individual journey.”
“We love this story. Tom Hudner and Jesse Brown gave their lives. Here’s just our contribution to bring it to now to show that you can do anything that you can move forward, regardless of the circumstances you’ve been put into. That’s possible through devotion to yourself to your craft to your work to your heart to what you believe in and keeping your eyes on the sky.”
The film will be released in theaters via Sony’s Columbia Pictures later this year.