An Omar Broadway Film

Movies

*** (Three stars)
This film centers on Broadway, the eponymous Northern State Prisoner, as he documents the violent abuse of his maximum-security gang unit with a contraband video camera. He interviews beaten prisoners and vows to use the footage to secure his own early release—or, if nothing else, fame and fortune.  Equally as unsettling as Broadway’s graphic register of prison brutality is the exceedingly one-sided treatment of the subject by codirector Douglas Tirola, who goes beyond Broadway's claustrophobic cell to collect clips of the prisoner’s mother calling the Bloods gang an "organization" and standing on a street corner in East Orange, New Jersey, saying, "I thank God for this corner because it made my son who he is.” While Broadway’s crime goes virtually unmentioned, he is painted as the humane victim of an ailing community. In one video message to his young daughter, he praises her for wearing red (his gang color) and confesses that he wanted her aborted. This documentary of Broadway's documentary provides necessary context around what sends a man like that to prison, but also distracts the viewer's anger from Broadway’s original mission, focusing it on the greater problem of the failing neighborhoods that breed such violent criminals—and their violent guards.—Genevieve Ernst, office manager

[This is a TONY staff review, written for the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival. It is not considered an official review and should not be read as such. Please think of it as a casual impression from a movie-loving friend.] 

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