Institute History

  • 2018 Sundance Film Festival


Steve Harmon, a bright, sensitive 17-year-old, stands trial for acting as a lookout during the lethal armed robbery of a Harlem bodega. Before his arrest, he was an honors student and aspiring filmmaker taking street-level snapshots and on-the-fly footage of neighborhood life. Now, Steve is seen as just another young black criminal, assumed guilty and labeled a monster. But Steve and his lawyer declare his innocence and attempt to defy the odds in a bid to win his freedom.

Adapted from the award-winning young adult novel by Walter Dean Myers, Monster methodically details how an inquisitive outsider found himself inside of a system stacked against him. Veteran commercial/music video director Anthony Mandler, in his feature debut, brings a restless style and formal audacity to this tale of American injustice. Kelvin Harrison Jr.'s moving lead performance is complemented by strong turns from Jeffrey Wright, Jennifer Hudson, Jennifer Ehle, and Tim Blake Nelson. Deploying Steve's angry inner monologue set against a propulsive soundtrack, Monster shifts between tense courtroom drama and lyrical glimpses of his life leading up to the crime.

— M.C.

Screening Details

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