The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain: A Must-Watch

Frankie Faison in The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain. Photo credit: Camrin Petramale.

The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain is garnering award nominations but Frankie Faison needs to be in the Oscar conversation.

Frankie Faison’s performance as Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. earned a Gotham Award win at the end of November. He also has a Film Independent Spirit Award nomination, too. We’ll certainly see if this indie film is able to capture the Academy’s attention. ACADEMY VOTERS, ARE YOU LISTENING?!? However, it’s hard turning away during the film’s 81-minute run time. Chamberlain controls the screen for much of this time.

It’s infuriating to see the same thing happening repeatedly. Again and again and again. It’s like we’re stuck in a time loop or something. Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. did not have to die. What was a simple accident by triggering a medical alert pendant should not have led to his death an hour and a half after the cops arrived. By triggering the alert, the cops were dispatched. It shouldn’t matter that he was bipolar. No matter how many times he tried to give an explanation, it went nowhere. The officers also taunted him and got very racist in their remarks. They ultimately broke the door down and shot him. FOR NO REASON.

I must admit that I didn’t hear about Kenneth’s story until I started getting pitches for the film. I’m also a bit late in watching the film. Honestly, I have no excuse in watching this late in the year. Upon watching the film, I can’t tell you how angry I am. It also goes without saying that the system is broken. But of course, we know this. Look at the past few years! For one, cops need to stop killing innocent people. This man did nothing wrong to end up getting killed by police. Making matters worse is that he is a military veteran. Folks, our veterans deserve better. This also does not even begin to take into account how law enforcement respond to people with a mental illness diagnosis.

One thing I like about David Midell’s approach is that it’s as if we’re there in the room or hallway. And again, it’s only 81 minutes long but we’re unable to look away from the screen. The film’s budget is low enough to get Film Independent Spirit Award nominations but you couldn’t tell this by watching. This film should also be essential viewing for every person working in law enforcement. The conversation is only going to continue so maybe the HBO Max platform will help the film with finding and growing its audience.

The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain is a reminder of everything that is currently wrong with the system.

CAST: Frankie Faison, Steve O’Connell, Enrico Natale, Ben Marten, with LaRoyce Hawkins and Anika Nomi Rose

Gravitas Ventures released The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain in theaters on September 17, 2021. The film is currently streaming on HBO Max.

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.