This film is written and directed by Matt Ruskin, distributed by Amazon Studios. The production entities are: Iam21 Entertainment, Washington Square Films and Black Maple Films.
Lakeith Stanfield stars as Colin Warner, the Trinidadian youth who is falsely accused and wrongly imprisoned for 20 years. He is wonderful in the role. He is tender, kind and comes from an embracing culture. He’s no hard-ass.
NFL All-Pro Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha plays Carl King, Colin’s close pal who gives over his life to helping free his pal.
You want a definition of pure friendship? This is it.
“Most films are seen as an escape. A chance to explore unknown universes, meet larger than life characters and bend the laws of reality. But some of the most effective and powerful of films are those based solely on truth and real life stories. Crown Heights shook the Sundance Film Festival Monday night by telling the tragic true story of the injustice against Colin Warner.” Nathan McVay from the “HeyUGuys” website (January 25, 2017)
What am I to say? Have we not all heard nightmare stories of the wrongly convicted in this country? Think about it for a minute: a person is wrongly convicted because of the chicanery of police officers, their will to be the powerful in all situations, to rule and to win their gutter victories, because the police and the courts are more often than not one and the same, because too many white policemen/women feel they have a duty to “neutralize” the lives and aspirations of black men at every turn.
Have we not all heard by now of Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld who founded the Innocence Project in 1992? We know.
Are we as a people (all of us) able to accept the horrendous “institution” – the entire prison system in America? What are we thinking? We are paying our tax dollars to support a system rife with incompetence, racism, classism and just about every other negative “ism” anyone can think of. WE (black, white, brown, yellow, whatever and however you color yourself) get up every day of the week and rarely have a thought to those who have been wrongly convicted and now live their days in constant misery. We don’t consider the horror of being locked away without good reason and the scabby reality that their loved ones must face and deal with. My head is exploding just thinking about it. Can you imagine being locked in a cell in a dreadful prison for a crime you did not commit for 20 years? I cannot bear the thought. How does one survive that circumstance?
This film brings home to the heart the wasted lives, the energies that could’ve been applied to so many other things – like family, community, work, etc.
I loved this film because it taught me that it’s not just about the man or woman wrongly convicted. Though let there be no doubt that is the “better” part of the story. But families and loved ones, children, everyone in the life-sphere of the wrongly convicted must deal with this madness, this cold “justice” system, these police officers who act as if they’d rather see ALL BLACK MEN DEAD or LOCKED AWAY. WHO IS TEACHING THEM THAT THAT SHOULD BE THEIR LIFE’S WORK?
What I loved about Lakeith’s performance was the quiet in his heart and in his being. This young man is no criminal though he did involve himself in the dumb stuff that teenage boys involve themselves in – petty thievery. There’s a push to clamp the CRIMINAL title on all black people. That way, we can all be prison material. SLAVERY. Colin Warner manages to survive, manages to come out of that nightmare with his soul intact because people believed in him, fought for him, because so many – for their love of him – had to leave their own life trajectories to help him survive this horror. So many do not have that luxury.
See the film. It’s not perfect but it’s heartfelt and at times tortuous in how it rips apart the lives of people who do not deserve such dismissiveness, such violence. And rest assured that in this case at least, there is a happy ending.
I met Mr. Warner and his lovely wife Antoinette and their daughter. He’s in good spirits! And they now live in the area where we filmed “In the Heat of the Night” in Georgia! His story kept me wide-awake the entire night after I saw the film. It was worth the pain. Even better to know that he and his lovely family are ok.