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By Mark Bell | December 1, 2014

When a falsely convicted man is sent home after spending almost fourteen years in a New York prison, he soon discovers that earning his daughter’s trust and love will be a formidable challenge.

Coming Home is the debut feature documentary film of Viko Nikci, a filmmaker based in Ireland. As Nikci’s movie unfolds, we learn that the then twenty-five-year-old Angel Cordero is arrested and incarcerated after Cordero and his brother walk across a Manhattan street one night to observe a brawl between several people. The fight results in the stabbing and death of a man.

At the time, Cordero does not know of the murder. What he does observe is his brother being handcuffed by the police. Jumping in to save his innocent brother, Cordero soon finds himself arrested too. Later, at the police station, Cordero’s brother is eventually freed, while Cordero is detained, under lock and key, without bail. What we also learn is that within his lengthy prison stay, Cordero marries and has a child named Sarah. From the time Cordero is arrested, to this day, Cordero maintains that the police arrested the wrong man, and that he is innocent.

Nikci’s documentary is not the usual sappy fluff, about people who find themselves imprisoned and declare their innocence. For one thing, there is absolutely no lag time or boring moments in this movie, in spite of the fact that there are no special effects or other such clever gimmicks to move the documentary along. Cinematically, the film is crisp and clean, minus the normative neo-noir effects employed by so many contemporary documentary filmmakers. There is also no dreary musical score strategically placed to pull at viewer heartstrings. Instead, the simple, true story propels the film quickly, compelling our interest at every step. An upbeat musical score rhythmically emphasizes Cordero’s hopes and dreams, despite seventeen-year-old Sarah’s insistence that she wants nothing to do with her father.

Also particularly noteworthy is the peripheral story of the true killer—his confrontation with Cordero, the killer’s confession of the crime to Cordero and police— and the complete disregard of that confession within the judicial system.

All of this makes Coming Home one amazingly powerful documentary film that inspires hope in the human spirit, even when life seems at its lowest ebb.

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