The Napa movie premiere of "Heaven's Rain" and a community discussion with the film's writer and producer, Brooks Douglass, will be held at Napa Valley College on April 12. This event is being co-sponsored by Napa County District Attorney's Office Victim-Witness Division and the Napa Valley College Criminal Justice Training Center. This event is being produced to coincide with the 2011 National Crime Victims' Rights Week. The film will be shown in the Performing Arts Center on campus.
It is open to the public. Tickets must be purchased online ahead of this event at: www.nvccjtc.org/nvcheavensrain.html. Tickets are NVC students, $5; general admission, $10; and the VIP meet and greet with select seating, $40.
The Napa-Solano County SANE/SART organization will sponsor a VIP meet and greet with District Attorney Gary Lieberstein and Brooks Douglass at 5:30 p.m. VIP tickets include a reception with wine and hors d'oeuvres. Other crime victim support organizations will have information tables in the lobby of the PAC when the doors open for general admission at 6:30 p.m.
About The Film: Brooks Douglass and his sister, Leslie, grew up in a home filled with love, compassion, and faith. Their father, Richard, was a leader in the Baptist Church. Their mother, Marilyn, was a woman of faith and talent, turning down a scholarship to the renowned Juilliard School to join Richard in the Brazilian mission field. On their return, Richard became pastor of a large church in Oklahoma City. Brooks was 16 and Leslie 12.
On Oct. 15, 1979, Brooks opened the door of their modest family home to what he believed was a man in need. The man, a drugged-up drifter named Glen Ake, was joined by his partner, Steven Hatch. They pulled out guns, tied up the Douglasses, repeatedly assaulted Leslie, shot all four family members, and left them for dead. Richard and Marilyn died at the scene. Brooks and Leslie recovered from their wounds, but their ordeal had just begun. Ake and Hatch were caught, tried, and, in 1980, sentenced to death.
For the next 16 years, however, the suffering rolled on as a legal system created to protect the rights of the accused dragged the Douglass children time after time to testify in court and relive that night. The story became national news. But it was continuing bad news for Brooks and Leslie, forced to sell their family home and possessions to pay medical bills. Brooks struggled through high school and college, repeatedly failing out, drinking heavily, and given to bouts of rage. Leslie, once a beauty queen with a beautiful voice, fought to put her life together as she dealt with recurring nightmares and struggled in relationships. In a 1986 retrial, Ake was convicted again but received life in prison instead death. Brooks Douglass became convicted as well, convicted that the system must no longer "step over the body of a victim to read the criminal his rights." Brooks earned his law degree, and, at age 27, became the youngest state senator in Oklahoma history where he passed a series of victims' rights bill. In 1995, a second turning point came. On a legislative tour of a state prison, Brooks saw Ake and requested a chance to talk to the man who had destroyed his family.
“Heaven’s Rain” shares the dramatic result of that meeting. After three senate terms, Brooks changed directions, pursuing long-held creative desires. With Hollywood writer and director Paul Brown, Brooks co-wrote the “Heaven’s Rain” script and produced and starred in the film. While never shying from the hard facts, “Heaven’s Rain” ultimately is a tribute to the love and faith of Brooks' parents. The Sunday before the tragedy, in fact, Richard Douglass preached on forgiveness. In a dramatization of that moment in the film, Brooks himself, playing his father, quotes the book of Matthew: "He sends the rain on the just and the unjust," and William Shakespeare: "The quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven."