“Please don’t let it be a cell.”
Hauntingly disturbing, Amazon Film’s Crown Heights, showcases the journey of 18-year old Trinidadian transplant Colin Warner, and his 21 years behind bars, after being wrongfully convicted for a crime he did not commit. Robbed of two decades of his life, thanks to dishonest “eye witnesses” and splintered justice system, Warner, who now lives in Atlanta, Georgia with his wife and children, was found guilty of murdering a man he never even met.
A dream deferred, dismissed and denied, Crown Heights is the sobering true story of Warner’s horrific prison sentence. A product of the extremely flawed court system, void of true justice, at least at the expense of time and human dignity, the 90 minute film, who won the 2017 Sundance Audience Award, is painstakingly gut wrenching and unnerving.
Rising star, LaKeith Stanfield (Get Out, Atlanta) plays the young Warner, who was apprehended in 1980, and didn’t see the outside world until two decades later. Chilling and bitter, Stanfield shines as the real life Warner, who’s now 55 years old, surprisingly free of all grudges, unforgiveness and resentment, despite years of life stolen, with nothing to show for it.
“I’m never nervous when I had a passion for something, and I had a passion for this,” declared Nnamdi Asomugha in an interview. “And I was prepared. Football taught me that — preparation, and what it takes to learn what you are doing.” From the gridiron to Hollywood sets, Asomugha makes his silver screen debut as Carl “KC” King, who dedicated his life to religiously fight for Warner’s freedom. Carl’s amateur investigation, unconditional loyalty and love led to his friend’s release.
Shadowing King in Brooklyn, preparing for his role, Asomugha spoke about the process: “I really wanted to get into his brain and his mindset as far as what it took to get Colin out, and what it took to spend 20 years of your life doing it, and all that he had to sacrifice.”
One of the film’s nuggets was the conversation between Warner and King, when Warner, in all his valid frustration, asked why King didn’t move on with his life. “It resonated with me 100 percent,” Asomugha said of the scene. “When I first got Colin’s story and was was reading the script and found out he was wrongfully convicted of murder, it connected with me in a certain way because when I was a kid, I was arrested and both things I didn’t do.”
He added, “I could say those words from a real place.”
Written and directed by Matt Ruskin, Crown Heights leaves viewers perplexed and uneasy, with lingering feeling left over long after the concluding credits. To start, it’s one for a call to action. In an interview with Warner, who’s exudes confidence, poise and regal optimism, wants viewers to use this film and his story to “not drop the ball,” when it comes to raising our children and not to live in fear.
Crown Heights is currently in theaters in New York and Los Angeles, and opens in Chicago on Friday, September 1.
Click here for information when the film opens near you.