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TIME: The Kalief Browder Story 

After his arrest at age 16, Kalief Browder fought the system and prevailed, despite unthinkable circumstances. He became an American hero.
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Series cast summary:
Kalief Browder ...  Himself 6 episodes, 2017
Venida Browder Venida Browder ...  Herself - Kalief's Mother / ... 6 episodes, 2017
Jay-Z ...  Himself 6 episodes, 2017
Paul Prestia ...  Himself - Lawyer / ... 6 episodes, 2017
Adriana DeMeo Adriana DeMeo ...  City Attorney 6 episodes, 2017
Van Jones ...  Activist / ... 6 episodes, 2017
Josh Rhett Noble ...  Public Defender 6 episodes, 2017
Jeff Robinson Jeff Robinson ...  Himself - ACLU 6 episodes, 2017
Donnell E. Smith ...  Kalief Browder 6 episodes, 2017
Akeem Browder Akeem Browder ...  Himself - Kalief's Brother / ... 5 episodes, 2017
Nicole Browder Nicole Browder ...  Herself - Kalief's Sister / ... 5 episodes, 2017
Deion Browder Deion Browder ...  Himself - Kalief's Brother / ... 4 episodes, 2017
Kamal Browder Kamal Browder ...  Himself - Kalief's Brother / ... 4 episodes, 2017
Raheem Browder Raheem Browder ...  Himself - Kalief's Brother / ... 4 episodes, 2017
Michelle Alexander ...  Herself - Author 4 episodes, 2017
Donna Lieberman Donna Lieberman ...  Herself - New York Civil Liberties Union 4 episodes, 2017
Robin Steinberg Robin Steinberg ...  Herself - The Bronx Defenders 4 episodes, 2017
Liana Bedgood Liana Bedgood ...  Herself - Friend 3 episodes, 2017
Darryl Bryant Darryl Bryant ...  Himself - Former CO, Rikers 3 episodes, 2017
Mary Buser Mary Buser ...  Herself - Former Assistant Medical Health Chief 3 episodes, 2017
Samuel Gregory Samuel Gregory ...  Himself - Defense Attorney 3 episodes, 2017
Eric Holder ...  Himself - Former US Attorney General 3 episodes, 2017
Shaun King Shaun King ...  Himself - Writer 3 episodes, 2017
Ismael Nazario Ismael Nazario ...  Himself - Prison Reform Advocate 3 episodes, 2017
Brendan O'Meara Brendan O'Meara ...  Himself - Public Defender 3 episodes, 2017
Tyrone Pennington Tyrone Pennington ...  Himself - Friend 3 episodes, 2017
Michael Schwirtz Michael Schwirtz ...  Himself - Journalist 3 episodes, 2017
Alex Vitale Alex Vitale ...  Himself - Criminal Justice Expert 3 episodes, 2017
Michael Winerip Michael Winerip ...  Himself - Journalist 3 episodes, 2017
Mark Bodrick Mark Bodrick ...  Himself - Counselor 2 episodes, 2017
Stuart Grassian Stuart Grassian ...  Himself - Clinical Psychiatrist 2 episodes, 2017
Frida Marte Frida Marte ...  Herself - Counselor 2 episodes, 2017
John Meehan John Meehan ...  Himself - Civil Rights Attorney 2 episodes, 2017
James Meyerson James Meyerson ...  Himself - Civil Rights Attorney 2 episodes, 2017
Kenneth Montgomery Kenneth Montgomery ...  Himself - Defense Attorney 2 episodes, 2017
Dashaun Jiwe Morris Dashaun Jiwe Morris ...  Himself - Blood Author 2 episodes, 2017
Rosie O'Donnell ...  Herself 3 episodes, 2017
Elizabeth Payamps Elizabeth Payamps ...  Herself - Advisor 2 episodes, 2017
David Saverino David Saverino ...  Himself - Friend 2 episodes, 2017
Daniel Selling Daniel Selling ...  Himself - Former Executive Director of Mental Health 2 episodes, 2017
Al Sharpton ...  Himself 4 episodes, 2017


After his arrest at age 16, Kalief Browder fought the system and prevailed, despite unthinkable circumstances. He became an American hero.

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Release Date:

1 March 2017 (USA) See more »

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TIME: The Kalief Browder Story See more »

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User Reviews

Relentless. Brutal. Gripping.
21 September 2017 | by timmyhollywoodSee all my reviews

For me, there are two ways to rate this docu-series. The first is on an emotional or abstract level. The second is purely technical.

This six-part documentary, or docu-series, somewhat follows in the line of other true crime docu-series of late such as the Making a Murderer about Steven Avery or The Jinx, on Robert Durst. There aren't as many "twists" as with the Steven Avery story – Browder's is pretty straightforward. But the structure of storytelling is so noticeable so as to be distracting. Each episode follows a formula: presage the episode, then conflict builds to a climax, then a summary of the episode, then a teaser of the next episode, all woven together in a highly stylized way. As this pattern repeats, you hear certain sound bites more than once, you see the same pieces of footage again and again interpolated with close-ups of speeded-up clocks, to the point I wondered if I'd inadvertently replayed an episode. I found myself thinking that the whole thing was stretched out to fill six episodes when three would have contained it – the length of a feature film.

At the same time, this repetitiveness might be deliberate, meant to achieve an emotional end rather than just keep the brain stimulated and interested – we hear Browder tell ABC's Nightline at least a dozen times that he refused to plead guilty because he didn't do anything. We hear Van Jones say more than once how Browder wasn't a perfect person, but the position he took was perfect. We see the same security footage from Rikers multiple times, reinforcing the brutality of the experience. It's not enough, the filmmakers seem to be saying, to show you this just once. You're going to have an experience that evokes the experience Browder himself had – an endless string of court dates leading to adjournment, repetitive violence; system inadequacy on multiple levels ad nauseam. So, in this way, the film's technique is effective.

Some cynical viewers are likely to say, then, that it's the manipulation of the filmmakers which provoke an emotional response to sympathize with Browder and his ordeal. I don't think so. I think the filmmakers used the medium to present some small sliver of what his ordeal was like so there was something – beyond a kneejerk judgement – to truly sympathize *with.*

It's an old trope – "I'm gonna put the *system* on trial!" – but it's never been more apposite than it is in the case of Kalief Browder. We could simply be told – in a short news article or even in an internet meme – that 97% of criminal cases go to plea bargain, that due to a limited number of judges and criminal defense attorneys, without plea bargaining, the system would collapse. We could be told, then, that if a man claims he's innocent of an allegation (theft of a backpack), and gets denied bail because he broke probation by being arrested for allegedly stealing said backpack, and then languishes in one of the most violent prisons in the world while exercising his constitutional right to a trial… for THREE YEARS – just knowing these facts doesn't pack the full punch of sitting through the footage of Browder getting gang-beaten or witnessing his mother break down on camera.

Van Jones, at one point observes that, like with Syria, the casualties are "just a number" until one child washes up on a beach – then the world takes notice. Jones says, "Browder is that baby." Certainly Browder got the world to pay attention to the major flaws in the New York criminal justice system. But I like what someone else says in the documentary even better – that Browder, in standing up for his rights and refusing to cop a plea for something he says he didn't do, no matter how bad the violence of jail, the torture of endless months of solitary confinement, acts like America's last true patriot. And I think this is where, today more than ever, America needs to really come to terms with itself in defining and understanding what patriotism really is.

10/10 stars.

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