“The moment that Omar and Buddy decided to keep that camera, it transformed them from being inmates to being filmmakers.”
-“An Omar Broadway Film”

Being confined in a cell for 23 hours was the daily life of Omar Broadway. Sentenced to 10 years in maximum security at Newark, N.J.’s Northern State Prison, Broadway witnessed firsthand the severe corruption that was rampant through the facility. Fed up with the tribulations he and his cohorts experienced, he hatched a plan to escape. Equipped with a video camera in his deteriorated dwellings, he captured his daily life to shed light on the system and hopefully earn his way home.

An Omar Broadway Film is a real account of Omar Broadway’s life and experiences in prison, captured by a video camera he and his cellmate Buddy smuggled into the facility. From start to finish, the viewer is enthralled by Broadway’s life in Northern State’s Security Threat Management Gang Unit, which is an experimental unit aimed at helping imprisoned gang members renounce their gangs. Broadway, an East Orange, N.J. native, served seven years of his life in the unit after being a product of the East Orange/Newark Blood gang.

Taking a documentary-style approach, the film combines Broadway’s clips in prison with heartfelt commentary from his family members and others closely involved with him. His mother Lynne shows the neighborhood in which Broadway was reared and explains how his growing fascination with street life ultimately landed him in prison. The film also offers a glimpse of the harsh gang-infested streets of East Orange and Newark and commentary from those who were formerly involved in the culture.

But perhaps the most shocking detail of the film is the footage captured in the STMGU unit. While the unit is designed to transform former gang members into straight-and-narrow individuals, prisoners often become the victims of senseless attacks.

In lieu of the dangers Broadway could have possibly faced had he been discovered, he went out on a limb to tell his story. At the film’s conclusion, it is revealed whether or not his actions were truly in vain and what ultimately became of the prisoner-turned-documentarian.

An Omar Broadway Film premieres on July 14 on HBO.

 

Gregory Dale

AFRO News Editor