Daily News header

The Central Park Five Film Review

By     get stories by email

Heartbreaking Documentary Revisits Rush to Judgment in Infamous Jogger Case

Around 9 PM on April 19, 1989, a 28 year-old, female jogger was brutally beaten, sexually assaulted and left for dead in a wooded area of Central Park located off the beaten path. Because she was an investment banker with an Ivy League pedigree, the NYPD felt the pressure to apprehend the perpetrators of the heinous crime ASAP.

Within hours, cops had extracted confessions from Anton McCray, Kevin Richardson, Korey Wise, Yusef Salaam and Raymond Santana, Jr., teenagers who had been denied their right to an attorney. Although none of the five had ever been arrested before, they were all convicted of rape and attempted murder on the strength of those incriminating admissions alone.

park
Theatrical release poster. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Part of the explanation for the legal lynching was that thevictim was a wealthy white woman while the accused were poor black kids from Harlem. The press was all too willing to exploit the hot button issues of color and class, and the media sensationalized the case's lurid details, coining the term "wilding" to describe the alleged behavior of the defendants.

Real estate magnate Donald Trump even took out full-page ads in every New York City daily newspaper, calling for the death penalty and saying that the boys "should be executed for their crimes." In the face of the vigilante-like demand for vengeance, no one seemed concerned that the suspects' DNA failed to match the only semen found at the scene.

Sadly, they were only exonerated in 2002 after having completely served sentences ranging from 6 to 13 years when Matias Reyes, a serial rapist whose DNA was a match, confessed to the crime because of his guilty conscience. This gross miscarriage of justice is recounted in The Central Park Five, a riveting documentary co-directed by the father-daughter team of Ken and Sarah Burns.

The film features reams of archival footage, including videotapes of the framed quintet's coerced confessions. Mixed in are present-day reflections by them, their lawyers, and relatives, as well as by politicians, prosecutors and other pivotal players.

A heartbreaking expose' about a rush to judgment which ruined five, innocent young lives.

Excellent (4 stars)

Unrated

Running time: 119 minutes

Distributor: Sundance Selects

To see a trailer for The Central Park Five:

http://www.ifcfilms.com/videos/the-central-park-five-2

Kam Williams is a syndicated film and book critic who writes for 100+ publications. He is a member of the New York Film Critics Online, the African-American Film Critics Association, and the NAACP Image Awards Nominating Committee. Contact him through NewsBlaze. Read more reviews by Kam Williams.

  Please click this get stories by email button to be notified about future stories, and please leave a comment below.

  Please leave a comment here     If it does not display within 10 seconds, please refresh the page

Related Movie Reviews News

Laurence J. Fishburne, III has achieved an impressive body of work as an actor, producer and director. He talks about playing Pops on the new TV sitcom, Black-ish.
Movie Stars like to boast they can play just about anybody, if they put their mind to it. But for celeb and sex symbol Richard Gere, morphing into a dazed and confused homeless man literally wandering the streets of NYC proved more than daunting.
Flying in the face of this conventional wisdom is Ari Seth Cohen,a street photographer who roams around Manhattan looking for flamboyant elderly females to capture with his camera
Thought-provoking, faith-based parable asking whether it's ever too late to make a second impression. An intriguing morality play written and directed by Will Bakke
The Pocono Mountains Film Festival Celebrates its 12th Year in commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of Brown VS. Board 50th Anniversary of the Voters Registration Act
Our Movie reviewer Kam Williams gives his wekly previews to make choosing a film fun. Including titles such as Annabelle, Gone Girl and the blue room.

 

NewsBlaze Writers Of The Month



Popular Stories This Month

newsletter logo

NewsBlaze
Copyright © 2004-2014 NewsBlaze Pty. Ltd.
Use of this website is subject to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy  | DMCA Notice               Press Room   |    Visit NewsBlaze Mobile Site