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Crown Heights (R)

Adapted from an episode of "This American Life," this true story of Colin Warner, who was wrongfully convicted of murder, packs a punch. Matt Ruskins' sophomore feature follows Warner, played with heartbreaking sincerity by Lakeith Stanfield ("Atlanta," Short Term 12), from the moment before he's accused of murder through the 21 years he serves in prison for a crime he didn't commit. When Warner refused to cut a plea deal that would require him to admit guilt, best friend, Carl King, impressively played by Nnamdi Asomugha (former Oakland Raiders Pro Bowl cornerback and the film's co-producer), commits his life to proving his friend's innocence. As Warner's hopes wane, King's devotion holds strong even as he risks his own family and finances for the cause. Writer-director Matt Ruskin worked closely to earn the trust of the real Colin Warner, and it shows in the film; its emotional authenticity shedding light on a painful, personal story, and a horrifying systemic problem. Anchored by Stanfield and Asomugha's powerful performances, Crown Heights unfolds a story of hope, endurance, and judicial error.