Director Marc Forster, winner of Best Feature at Slamdance for his debut film Loungers (1996) and the "Someone to Watch" Independent Spirit Award for his indie drama Everything Put Together (2000), follows up those acclaimed projects with this intense, racially charged romance. Billy Bob Thornton stars as Georgia prison guard Hank Grotowski, a hard-drinking racist ex-cop whose father, Buck (Peter Boyle), is dying of emphysema and whose son, Sonny (Heath Ledger), works the execution detail at the prison's death row. When Sonny commits suicide, Hank is devastated and quits his job, spiraling into a deep depression until, one night, he comes to the aid of Leticia (Halle Berry), a beautiful African-American woman whose son, Tyrell (Coronji Calhoun), has been hit by a car. When Tyrell dies, Leticia and Hank find themselves to be unexpected soul mates linked together by tragic grief. It's not long before Hank discovers that Leticia is the widow of Lawrence Musgrove (Sean Combs), the man whose execution by electric chair he and his late son helped to orchestrate. Monster's Ball (2001) is based on a screenplay by actors Milo Addica and Will Rokos, who spent five years developing their script into a feature. Their title refers to the name of an English tradition requiring jailers to throw a party for a condemned man on the night before his death.