Mississippi Burning is a 1988 American crime thriller film directed by Alan Parker that is loosely based on the 1964 Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner murder investigation in Mississippi. The film stars Gene Hackman and Willem Dafoe as two FBI agents assigned to investigate the disappearance of three civil rights workers in fictional Jessup County, Mississippi. The investigation is met with hostility by the town's residents, local police, and the Ku Klux Klan.
Screenwriter Chris Gerolmo began work on the script in 1985 after researching the 1964 murders of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner. He and producer Frederick Zollo took the script to Orion Pictures, and Parker was subsequently hired by the studio to direct the film. Both the writer and director had disputes over the script, which resulted in Orion allowing Parker to make uncredited rewrites. The film was shot in a number of locations in Mississippi and Alabama, with principal photography lasting from March 1988 to May of that year.
Upon release, Mississippi Burning was criticized for its fictionalization of history by African-American activists involved in the civil rights movement and the families of Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner. Critical reaction was mixed at the time, though the performances of Hackman, Dafoe, and Frances McDormand were generally praised. The film grossed $34.6 million in North American box-office revenue, against a production budget of $15 million. It received seven Academy Awards nominations, including Best Picture, and won for Best Cinematography.