False Belief is the love story of a couple caught up in the gentrification of a neighborhood that is wiping out a seminal African-American cultural legacy and displacing its original residents. In 2008 Norwegian artist and filmmaker Lene Berg moved in with her partner, a black New York publisher, who will be referred to as D. After giving a statement to the police about being harassed by his neighbor in Harlem, D was arrested, prosecuted, and imprisoned. But for what exactly? This initiated a journey where D’s faith in the American justice system put everything he cherished in life at risk.
Berg attempts to untangle the circumstances around the criminal case through D’s candid storytelling accompanied by her own narration, driven by collaged images, court documents, and still and moving images. By scrutinizing what at first seems to be an isolated minor case, False Belief uncovers the larger picture of a corrupt justice system that employs incarceration as a political and economic weapon. The film also embodies Berg’s idea of an expanded cinema in which various artistic media beyond the moving image comprise essential components in building a plot.