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'Crown Heights,' Film About 20-Year Wrongful Conviction, Heads to Sundance

By Rachel Holliday Smith | December 2, 2016 5:45pm | Updated on December 5, 2016 8:43am
 Lakeith Stanfield plays Colin Warner in the new film
Lakeith Stanfield plays Colin Warner in the new film "Crown Heights," selected for the Sundance Film Festival this year. Warner was wrongfully convicted of a 1980 murder in Brooklyn and spent 20 years in jail before he was exonerated.
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Sundance Institute/Ben Kutchins

BROOKLYN — “Crown Heights” is going to Sundance.

A new film based on the life of a Brooklyn man wrongfully convicted of murder will be included in the 2017 Sundance Film Festival this year, festival organizers announced this week.

The movie, “Crown Heights,” is set in the neighborhood where Colin Warner lived as a young man in 1980 when he was wrongfully accused, then convicted, of fatally shooting 16-year-old Mario Hamilton outside of Erasmus High School in Flatbush.

Warner, now in his 50s, spent 20 years in jail based on false testimony before his exoneration and release in 2001, according to reporting by City Limits magazine.

The on-screen adaption of the story, based on an episode of This American Life made about the case, stars Lakeith Stanfield — seen recently in Straight Outta Compton and the FX series “Atlanta” — as Warner, Sundance said. Former NFL player Nnamdi Asomugha plays Carl King, a friend of Warner’s who fought to prove his innocence and Natalie Paul (of HBO’s mini-series “Show Me a Hero”) plays Warner’s childhood friend.

After the Nov. 29 announcement from the festival, Paul said she was "beyond excited" about the Sundance selection.

The film, written and directed by Matt Ruskin, was filmed in New York last year, according to Deadline Hollywood.

“Crown Heights” is one of 66 selected to be a part of the famous Park City, Utah film festival, set to take place from Jan. 19 to 29, 2017.