Set to make its world premiere at the DOC NYC film festival later this month is director Ilinca Calugareanu’s “A Cops and Robbers Story,” which follows Corey Pegues, whose decorated 21-year career as a Black officer in the New York Police Department is threatened when it’s revealed that prior to joining the NYPD, he dealt crack cocaine for one of NYC’s most notorious drug gangs.There’s the popular suggestion of a thin line between cop and criminal, and “A Cops and Robbers Story” is an engrossing exploration at life on both sides of the law.
Pegues opens up about why he joined the NYPD after years as a drug dealer, coming of age in New York City during the height of the crack epidemic. He’s equally candid about how and why he turned his life around, and takes audiences inside the NYPD, where he became a decorated officer despite red-tape drawbacks and discrimination.
As nationwide protests continue calling for fundamental police reforms, especially treatment of racial minorities, as well as issues around economic disparities and social justice, the film is a timely and transparent reflection on a country that is the midst of a long-overdue racial reckoning.
“From the start, I was focused on Corey’s story, that’s what really hooked me in and my interest was always focused on his story and perspective, but you can’t divorce Corey’s story from the larger issues and context in which it exists,” Calugareanu said in a press statement. “So, yes, we were hoping to release it this year because, even though it was incredibly relevant to what was going on before, it has become explicit and spoken about. His story shows that there are different ways to police that could potentially trigger better results.”
“A Cops and Robbers Story” combines home movies; archival photos; interviews with friends, family members, colleagues, and members of the media; and dramatizations of key turning points in Pegues’ life to create a layered examination of an man who, against all odds, became a living embodiment of the American dream.
“I’m most excited for people to see that a misguided young kid did some things he’s not proud of but those things shaped him into the man he is today,” Pegues said in his own statement. “I pulled myself up from my bootstraps and made something out of myself, even with this crazy stuff around me. And never did I turn my back or turn a bad eye to the people who were still doing it. I still go to my same neighborhood, some people are in jail, some are home, some are strung out on drugs and I still hug them, kiss them, say what’s going on and they’re proud of me. And I gave Ilinca so much footage, some of that stuff I haven’t seen for years. It’s going to be an eye opener for people. I’m very proud of the work.”
“A Cops and Robbers Story” is produced by Mara Adina, and executive produced by Brenda Robinson, Julie Parker Benello, Nion McEvoy, Erika Olde, John Battsek, Jonathan Stanners, and Abbas Nokhasteh.
The film will make its world premiere as part of this year’s virtual edition of DOC NYC on Wednesday, November 11. Check out the film’s first trailer, exclusively on IndieWire, below.