Krimes‘ exploration of Jesse Krimes, a former drug dealer turned acclaimed conceptual artist while incarcerated, is a high wire act of contrasting messages. The documentary demonstrates how damaging the industrial prison complex was to Krimes’ mental health, but at the same time, points out that the isolation that prison provided fueled him to develop his artistic talent.
It’s an immense challenge to balance an inspiring tale with a critical lens, but director Alysa Nahmias pulls off the feat with grace. Krimes exposes the injustices of the federal prison system while still showing the restorative, healing power of artistic expression. The artist’s use of common materials like bedsheets, soap, and newspapers is the perfect metaphor for Krimes‘ message: Everything in our universe has more than one purpose and to label anything, from household items to underrepresented groups, only limits the multitude of potential they contain.
The Silver Lining
Due to lack of access, most of Krimes focuses on Jesse’s journey outside the prison walls. However, the animated portions fill in the gaps of footage beautifully and only further deepen the film’s messages of how art can represent the invisible narratives in our society. Animation director Molly Schwartz and her whole team should be proud of what they accomplished here.
Krimes is a part of DOC NYC’s (Nov 10-28th) 2021 lineup. Click here to learn more about how you can purchase a ticket for this title (both for in-person and digital screenings).