A study was revealed this year showing that, of the 1,900 Americans wrongfully convicted of crimes since 1986 and later exonerated, 47 percent were Black. While this figure might be unsurprising to many – including readers of this website – the presence and proliferation of these narratives is increasingly vital. Director Matt Ruskin’s new film Crown Heights presents one such narrative: the story of Colin Warner, a Trinidadian 18-year old living in Brooklyn, whose wrongful conviction in 1980 would result in a prison term of over 20 years.
Inspired by the This American Life episode “DIY”, Ruskin’s film joins a recent maelstrom of true stories adapted to a film which focuses on the incarceration of African-Americans. Beyond the crucial story it’s telling, Crown Heights is especially exciting for being one of the first films to center vibrant newcomer Lakeith Stanfield as the lead; the actor has continuously shined in a supporting capacity, but many of us are eager to see him thrive in leading roles like this one.
CROWN HEIGHTS opens in theaters August 25, 2017
In the spring of 1980, a teenager is gunned down on the streets of Flatbush, Brooklyn. The police pressure a child witness to identify a suspect. As a result, Colin Warner, an 18-year-old kid from nearby Crown Heights, is wrongfully convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. Colin’s childhood friend Carl ‘KC’ King devotes his life to fighting for Colin’s freedom. He works on appeals, takes loans for lawyer fees and becomes a legal courier to learn the court system. This incredible true story is adapted from the acclaimed This American Life segment by writer/director Matt Ruskin, with Lakeith Stanfield playing Colin Warner and Nnamdi Asomugha as Carl King.
Directed by: Matt Ruskin
Written by: Matt Ruskin
Producers: Nnamdi Asomugha, Natalie Galazka, Matt Ruskin
Starring: Lakeith Stanfield, Nnamdi Asomugha, Natalie Paul, Bill Camp, Nestor Carbonell, Amari Cheatom
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Leonardo Faierman is the senior film editor at Black Girl Nerds. Born in Buenos Aires, raised in Queens, Bar Mitzvah'd at Young Israel, buried under student loans. He writes video game, music, film, and movie reviews, as well as poetry, comic books, bad dreams and good copy. He's 1/5th of the comics podcast #BlackComicsChat and 1/2 of horror film podcast The Scream Squad.