Boosted by an audience award at the Sundance Film Festival, the fourth feature film production by Matthew Thurm ’10 is going national.
Crown Heights tells the story of Colin Warner, who was wrongfully convicted of murder, and Carl King, Colin’s best friend who devoted his life to proving his innocence. It opened to raves in New York City and Los Angeles and was released nationally last week (including the AMC Marple 10 in Springfield, where Thurm commonly went while at Swarthmore).
A co-producer of the film, Thurm says it is “an honor to be a part of the the team bringing Colin and Carl's incredible story to the world." At once enraging and uplifting, he adds, it is “ultimately about love, integrity, and the resilience of the human spirit.”
Adapted from an episode of This American Life, the film won the audience award for U.S. dramatic at Sundance in January, prompting a distribution deal from Amazon Studios.
“That was a great experience,” Thurm says. “Seeing the audience’s reaction to the movie and to Colin and Carl was amazing.”
The film’s official synopsis: “In the spring of 1980, a teenager is gunned down in 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.”
It’s a story that is both “unbelievable and all too common,” says Thurm.
“If it weren’t for his best friend Carl’s unceasing quest for justice, [Colin] would still be in prison today.”
Thurm’s previous feature film productions were 11:55; H., which also premiered at Sundance; and Rover (Or Beyond Human: The Venusian Future and the Return of the Next Level).
Thurm, a Bronxville, N.Y., native, was an Honors comparative literature major at Swarthmore, with minors in film studies and interpretation theory. In between his oral and written exams, he went to the Cannes Film Festival for the screening of his black-and-white short, Going Halfsies (or Un Homme Galant).