What does the world look like to a black man who has just been released from prison after serving an eight year sentence? S. Lance Ingram (Daniel Beaty) cannot believe his eyes as he walks down the streets of Harlem which has been spruced up by gentrification. He overhears a real estate agent talking to a couple about a one million dollar property. But gangs are still active in the community causing chaos, selling drugs, and training new recruits.
Lance takes up residence in a halfway house and looks for work which will make use of the computer training he received in prison. With nothing else available to him, he takes a job at a soup pantry washing dishes and delivering meals. He becomes friends with Miss Maddy (Loretta Devine) after setting up a new computer for her. Sensing that her 15-year-old grandson Ty (Khadim Diop) is heading for trouble by joining a street gang, Lance, who has seen it all, decides to do what he can to steer the teenager away from a possible life of crime.
Co-writer and director Jamal Joseph hits the mark with this rounded and realistic portrait of an ex-convict trying hard to start a new life. All around him are those who have failed in this endeavor – homeless addicts, crazy bullies on subways, black men harassed by police, and gang members finding solidarity in violent rituals. Witnessing Lance's encounter with Jomo (Omari Hardwick), it is hard to know whether their 27-year friendship bodes well for him or signals a dangerous drift back to the behaviors of his past.
One thing is very clear: Daniel Beaty's performance draws out our empathy and enables us to cheer Lance on in his quest for a transformed life.
Chapter & Verse was presented as part of the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in New York City, 2016.