Trailer For Ken Burns Documentary The Central Park Five Arrives

By Kelly West 2012-10-22 16:40:04discussion comments
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In 1989, five African American and Latino teens were convicted of the rape of a white woman who was jogging in Central Park in New York City. Years later, a convicted rapist and murderer confessed to the crime. How did five kids get convicted of this brutal act? And what kind of impact did this case have on New York City? Ken Burns' documentary The Central Park Five examines the case, which provoked public outrage.

Directed by Ken Burns, Sara Burns and David McMahon, The Central Park Five takes a look at the case that had all of New York's attention back in 1989 after a female jogger was brutally raped and left for dead in Central Park. Five teenagers were convicted of the crime, though it turned out they were not responsible for what happened. A confession (and later, DNA evidence) from the actual rapist brought the truth to light. The trailer for the documentary paints a vivid picture of the racial tension that erupted throughout the ordeal, and features comments from the convicted men, who speak about the interrogations following their arrests.


In 1989, five black and Latino teenagers from Harlem were arrested and later convicted of raping a white woman in New York City’s Central Park. They spent between six and 13 years in prison before a serial rapist confessed that he alone had committed the crime, resulting in their convictions being overturned.

Set against a backdrop of a decaying city beset by violence and racial tension, THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE tells the story of that horrific crime, the rush to judgment by the police, a media clamoring for sensational stories, an outraged public, and the five lives upended by this miscarriage of justice.

If not by the crime committed, then by the documentary title and the fact that the case involved teens, not to mention the time period, we could draw some basic associations between The Central Park Five and the West Memphis Three. The latter involved three teenagers convicted for the murder of three small children. The Central Park Jogger case took place a few years before and is clearly more racially charged than religious, but if there's a common thread between these two stories, besides the fact that they both involve teenagers who were wrongfully convicted despite no DNA evidence linking them to the crime, it's the local uproar it caused and the pressure to close the book on the case quickly (if not efficiently or fairly). This case is also getting recent mainstream attention thanks to a documentary, which is another aspect it shares with the widely publicized WM3 case, which has already been featured in numerous documentaries, including the Peter Jackson produced West of Memphis, due out this December.

The Central Park Five's trailer gives us a glimpse of the tension this ordeal caused in New York City at the time, as well as the impact the ordeal had on the five teens who were wrongfully convicted.

The Central Park Five has played at some of the festivals, and will arrive in theaters November 23, with an On Demand release of December 7.
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