There is nothing to soften the blow of what happened to Kenneth Chamberlain, Sr. in his own home almost eight years ago. “The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain” film does not spare any punches and it made me feel as if I was present and watching the real events and actions transpire. It is hard to watch, but it needs to be seen.
Director of Photography Camrin Petramale does an excellent job of capturing the action in a small apartment and the staircase outside of it, and the rising sense of dread as more and more police arrive on what was to only be a medical well check on an elder man.
This film is based on the true story of the tragedy that happened to Chamberlain, a 68-year-old African American army veteran suffering from bipolar disorder during the early morning hours of November 19, 2011 in White Plains, New York. This narrative feature film by writer/director/producer David Midell (Nightlights) is a real-time dramatization by the filmmakers who worked with the Chamberlain family and also used court records and trial audio to recreate the events that led to this tragedy. The script is very well written and draws in the audience as the fear increases, as well as the abuse and misunderstanding unfolds.
The film stars Frankie Faison (“The Wire,” “Do the Right Thing”) as the decorated veteran who accidentally set off a medical alert device which caused police officers dispatched to his home for the well check. They arrived a little after 5 a.m. and he told them he was fine. The officers relentlessly wanted to go inside the home and after breaking down the door, by 7 a.m. they had shot him to death.
All of the actors in this dramatization excel in their roles, and one that stands out aside from the protagonist is actor/producer/editor Enrico Natale (“Silver Skies,” “Ticket to Hell”) in the role of the rookie cop, Officer Michael Rossi. All the other actors who performed their role as officers were certainly good, as they sent chills through me with their behavior and menacing stares at Rossi and other residents in the apartment building.
“The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain” has had the World Premiere at the Austin Film Festival with two screenings and has won the Narrative Feature Award. The AFF scheduled an encore screening on Thursday, October 31 at Alamo Drafthouse Village. Visit Austin Film Festival’s official website for more details.