RACISM: A superb experimental documentary about a trial that never was.
Hans Henrik Fafner
Hans Henrik Fafner
Fafner is a regular critic in Modern Times Review.
Published date: June 12, 2020

In December 2014 a grand jury decided not to indict Daniel Pantaleo, the New York police officer who earlier that same year had been involved in the violent death of Eric Garner on a Staten Island street. At that time Roee Messinger was in his second year of film school in New York. He lived in Harlem and realized that everyone who would have testified in the trial, that never came about, was probably living close to him, and considering the case a blatant example of injustice, he decided to make it his first major film project.

This turned into a cinematic «what if» experiment of a very special kind. American Trial: The Eric Garner Story was screened in November last year, and at that time nobody could tell that his semi-experimental documentary would gain such prominence today. The film explores the killing of a black man, and the story has a chilling similarity to the recent killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Minor and trivial offence

Eric Garner was a small-time crook. He had been arrested at least 30 times, and on July 17, 2014, a police cruiser was sent to take him in once …


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