American Trial

New York City, New York | Film Feature

Documentary, Experimental

Roee Messinger

1 Campaigns | New York, United States

Green Light

This campaign raised $51,208 for production. Follow the filmmaker to receive future updates on this project.

170 supporters | followers

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A New York grand jury decided not to prosecute Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo for Eric Garner's death back in 2014. We will show the trial that could have taken place, using real lawyers and the actual witnesses who would have testified in court had the case been tried.

About The Project

  • The Story
  • Wishlist
  • Updates
  • The Team
  • Community

Mission Statement

The story of Eric Garner is first and foremost a story about racial relations and about the movement for black lives. Our cast and crew exemplify the diversity and multiculturalism of American society with formidable representations of women, people of color, religious minorities and lawyers ;)

The Story



On July 17, 2014, Eric Garner was approached by the NYPD on the streets of Staten Island for selling loose cigarettes. A cell phone video of the incident shows that in an attempt to take Garner into custody, Officer Daniel Pantaleo put his arm around his neck.  Despite calling out “I can’t breathe” eleven times, Garner was only released from the officer's hold after losing consciousness. He was pronounced dead shortly after.


The matter was investigated by a Staten Island grand jury which opted not to indict Pantaleo for any crime.



American Trial seeks to discover what a trial in the Eric Garner case might have taught us. How is our legal system designed to handle cases such as Garner’s? What verdict may have been returned after all the evidence was presented? More importantly, what conversations, perspectives and emotions went unexamined because of the grand jury’s decision?


Similarly to fiction courtroom dramas, the lead characters of this documentary will be the attorneys leading the prosecution and the defense. Our camera will capture them as they develop their public arguments and individual positions. How do they decide which witnesses to summon? How do they prepare for their court appearance? Are there any discrepancies between their systemic role and their true feelings regarding the case?  


The film will also follow a news crews covering the trial and reporting on race relations in America within the context of the trial and the movement for black lives. They will travel across America to discover what public figures, intellectuals and activitsts think about the Eric Garner case, as well as other similar cases through the prism of racial relations in the United States.



The proposed budget for the entire film is $180,000, but we only need $70,000 to get us through the production phase. We've already raised $20,000 through private investment which is why our Seed & Spark goal is $50,000.

Just like most productions, the biggest chunck is of course the crew. Our camera and lenses expenses are also quite substantial since we're going to film the trial as a live event, using a multi camera setup to allow sufficient coverage.

Being the innovative film project that we strive to be, we're looking to shake things up when it comes to our incentives as well. Like most projects, we will offer the traditional postcard from the set, online screeners and production credits. We will also offer our backers a chance to come to our set and participate in the live shot trial as an audience member or even as a juror!


We also want to encourage you to tell your friends about us, so after you've made your contribution (no matter the amount), we will give you a $1 credit toward one of our incentives for every email that you send to a friend or a family member asking them to contribute to our campaign (and cc [email protected]). You may not be able to afford $100 and get our delux digital package, but maybe you can contribute $5 and send out 95 emails. If you'd be interested in doing that, please write to us and let us know, so we can offer assistance and support as needed.



Use the WishList to Pledge cash and Loan items - or - Make a pledge by selecting an Incentive directly.

Cash Pledge

Costs $0

Sony XDCAM PXW‑FS5 Ultra HD Camcorder ‑ 4K ‑ Bo...

Costs $6,000

Because of our sporadic timeline of filming it'll make more sense to buy it than to rent it for each seperate shooting date.

Location fees and Set design

Costs $5,000

Renting a courtroom can be expensive...


Costs $2,000

People gotta eat, right?


Costs $15,000

People also have to get paid

lighting rentals

Costs $5,000

Lighting a courtroom in a way that can be concealed and effective is super important for this production.

Media Center

Costs $3,000

Because of our multi camera set up, and the fact we're filming the trial live, we need a media center that will take in the live feeds.

Camera Rentals

Costs $4,000

One camera will be purchased, but for the multi camera set up during the trial we'll need 4-6 additional cameras that will be rented.


Costs $5,000

We also need sound equipment, make up, props and all kinds of other little things that go into making a movie


Costs $5,000

Every production needs one, and we also need to make sure we're covered if we get sued;)

About This Team

Roee Messinger (Director)

The son of a Swiss father and an Argentine mother, Roee was born in Israel, raised in Mexico and educated in the United States. In May 2015 Roee graduated from the MFA Program at City College of New York under a sponsorship of the prestigious Fulbright Fellowship for international students. His award-winning thesis film Drifting had a successful run on the festival circuit. Roee has worked as a film specialist at the Harlem Children Zone before committing his full time to the development and production of American Trial which will be his directorial debut on a feature film.


Aharon Rothschild (Director of Photography)

Aharon’s first feature as Director of Photography - Khwaabb (2014, Dir. Zaid Khan), received a wide theatrical release in India. Aharon recently wrapped up the shooting of Landing Up (2016, Dir. Dani Tenenbaum), a visceral feature film about homelessness, shot on location in New York City. Aharon’s experience as a journalist, photographer and videographer is very important to his work on American Trial. Aharon also works as a colorist and has 29 feature film credits to his name. Three of the films he colored this year have been officially selected to the Tribeca International Film Festival.


Julie Rendelman (Defense Attorney)

As an Assistant District Attorney in Brooklyn, Julie has investigated and prosecuted hundreds of criminal cases. She quickly earned her reputation as a tough and tenacious trial attorney. While in the office, Julie was lead counsel in over 60 felony jury trials that involved a wide variety of crimes, from drug offenses to sex crimes to homicides. Julie quickly rose to the level of Senior Trial Attorney and was eventually promoted to the elite Homicide Bureau, where she became the Deputy Bureau Chief. Julie then opened her own practice, the Law Offices of Julie Rendelman, LLC. Julie’s vast experience as a prosecutor has given her a unique first-hand perspective of how prosecutors develop and investigate their cases, which is key to mounting a strong defense.


Priya Chaudhry (Defense Attorney)

Priya is a partner of trial firm Harris, St. Laurent & Chaudhry LLP. With over 30 jury trials in some of the nation’s most complicated and high-profile criminal cases, Priya’s formidable 16 year career in criminal defense wins regular recognition. Priya defends her clients’ rights zealously, creatively and intelligently, regardless of the charges leveled against them. Her excellent reputation for the exceptional preparation of each case has earned her great respect from the jury bench, her colleagues and a her adversaries.


Thomas Kenniff and Steven Raiser (Prosecutors)

Thomas and Steven are the founding partners at Raiser & Kenniff, P.C., one of New York metropolitan area’s preeminent criminal defense and civil rights law firms.  In the past 10 years they have handled some of the most high profile criminal cases in the metropolitan area. Their practice areas focus on defending those accused of criminal offenses in both federal and state courts. They have received recognition as top criminal lawyers in numerous publications. They are both veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and recipients of numerous commendations, and both started their careers as military prosecutors.


Current Team