lakeith stansifled crown heights

Lakeith Stanfield plays a wrongfully convicted man in the Sundance Award winner, Crown Heights.

In the movie 13th, filmmaker and overall trailblazer for female directors Ava DuVernay brought back to light Bill Clinton’s 1994 crime bill. The bill would later become a large criticism of Hillary Clinton during her failed 2016 presidential campaign but it outlined how much more right than left Bill Clinton was on crime in America. Right there on the House floor, he mandated “longer sentences, more prisons, and more police.”

You could argue that there have been far more prisons established over the last 25 years than schools in America but I digress. That clip from Clinton’s 1994 stance on nationwide crime is spliced into the trailer for Crown Heights, a film starring Atlanta and Get Out‘s Lakeith Stanfield.

Out August 25th, Stanfield plays Collin Warner, a man wrongly convicted of murder in 1982 in New York City. Warner gets lumped into the prison population in conditions far unsuitable for the living, much less the slaves to the justice system. A decade before Clinton established the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, Warner is already being victimized by it.

“It’s bigger than that.”

Crown Heights is based on a true story — Warner’s life behind prison walls was converted into a segment on This American Life before transitioning into a feature film. Stanfield, with a Trinidadian accent and long dreadlocks is immediately recognizable and is convicting as a man still searching for freedom while boxed in. The good news in this picture is that Warner’s conviction was overturned in 2001 with the help of his friend Carl King (played here by former NFL cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha). As a movie, you’re asking yourself one thing about Crown Heights. How does it place a microscope on one particular life as it’s railroaded through a criminal justice system only heightened by the laws of Reagan and ultimately Clinton?

Warner and King in the film both endure punishment, Warner’s far more physical and psychological than anything else. The two of them, seated together offer the most poignant and responsible dialogue in the entire trailer. Why would King watch his personal life wither away to save Warner? “It’s not just about you,” King says. “It’s bigger than that.”

The film also stars Natalie Paul, Bill Camp, Nestor Carbonell and Amari Cheatom. Watch the trailer for the Sundance Audience Award winner below.

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