The Austin Chronicle

Big Fat Independent Movies

Sending Off SXSW Film 04

By Belinda Acosta, March 26, 2004, Screens

Crown Heights

D: Jeremy Kagan; with Mario Van Peebles, Howie Mandel

Narrative Feature Special Screenings

Van Peebles and Mandel star in this film based on actual events. When a Hasidic Jew kills a black child in a 1991 car accident, rumors fly and tempers flare, blistering into three days of civil unrest. The film follows the uneasy, sometimes amusing attempts by community leaders who join forces to foster communication between the male youth of their respective communities. Director Kagan stylishly weaves his narrative with black-and-white footage of "real" people and events. Black-and-white shots eventually serve as a deafening visual siren that surprisingly strikes the solar plexus. The film does not arrive at a tidy conclusion: The last scene, with boys from both sides facing each other on opposite sides of a subway platform, offers a forlorn image of their differences while at the same time providing an exhilarating glimpse of hope.

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