Tag Archives: Ken Burns

FILM CAPSULE: The Central Park Five (Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, 2012): USA

Reviewed by Larry Gleeson Viewed at the AFI Fest 2012 at Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, Calif.

In 1989, five black and Latino teenagers from Harlem are arrested and  convicted of raping a white woman jogging in New York City’s Central Park. They are incarcerated in prison ranging between 6 and 13 years  before a serial rapist confesses to one of the erroneously convicted that he alone had committed the crime, leading to the  convictions of those erroneously imprisoned being overturned. Set against a backdrop of a decaying city beset by violence and racial tension during the mid 80’s crack cocaine boom, The Central Park Five,  tells the story of crime, a miscarriage of justice, the push by the police for confessions, a sensationalized media frenzy clamoring for emotionally charged stories and a public pushed to the brink with the common place Central Park “wildings’ occurring each weekend , and the five lives upended by the police department, the prosecutor’s office and the New York City Mayor’s Office. The five youths admitted they were in the park that evening committing other crimes.

The film is directed by legendary documentarian Ken Burns and his newcomer daughter Sarah Burns, who is the driving force behind the making of the film as she wrote her college thesis on the five falsely accused teens. Extensive use of archival footage combined with photos and current seated interviews provide an authenticity to the storytelling. At times it’s difficult to fathom how these young men were coerced into confessing. Yet, the Burns’ take the viewer on an “inch by inch” journey culminating in the release of the Central Park Five from their respective incarcerations. The question propagated being: was justice carried out? The obvious answer is not for these five young men. Other questions come to mind when these men are shown present day as they are finding it challenging to live life on life’s terms.

In a Q & A following the film (three of the Central Park Five were present and participated in a panel along with Ken and Sarah Burns), a civil suit against the prosecutor’s office and the police department came to light. The lawsuit is now nine years old and depositions haven’t even begun. The general consensus being that two to three more years will pass before the depositions are completed. Then, and only then, will the case be heard.

Yesterday’s headline news again reported a female jogger being approached by another group of five  young, teen-age men around 8:30 P/M in the northern part of New York City’s Central Park seeking the woman to provide them with kisses. The woman rebuffed the advances and police officers claim one of the teens touched her genital/groin area and purportedly ran off. The Central Park Five, is a very provocative film revolving around the issue of what constitutes justice and what collateral damage occurs in carrying out a Machiavellian “the end justifies the means” brand of justice.

 

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#AFI DOCS 2016 ANNOUNCES OPENING AND CLOSING NIGHT FILMS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – APRIL 25, 2016, WASHINGTON, DC – Today, AFI DOCS, the American Film Institute’s annual documentary celebration held June 22–26, 2016, in the nation’s capital, announced the festival’s Opening and Closing Night films. Opening AFI DOCS 2016 is the North American premiere of Magnolia Pictures’ ZERO DAYS, directed by Alex Gibney. Closing the festival is Music Box Films’ NORMAN LEAR: JUST ANOTHER VERSION OF YOU, directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady. Both Gala screenings will be held at the Newseum, which has joined the festival this year as the Official Gala Screening Partner. Located on historic Pennsylvania Avenue, the Newseum is a champion for free expression around the world and features seven levels of interactive exhibits including 15 galleries and 15 theaters.

AFI DOCS is proud to announce the return of AT&T as Presenting Sponsor.

“With AT&T’s continued support, we are thrilled to kick off and close AFI DOCS 2016 with two remarkable films that remind us why documentaries are essential viewing for all who love film. To have this trio of filmmakers — Alex Gibney, Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady — bookend the festival is a true honor,” said Michael Lumpkin, Director of AFI DOCS.

The Opening Night Gala of the North American premiere of ZERO DAYS will be held on June 22 at the Newseum and will feature a Q&A with Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney after the screening. ZERO DAYS explores Stuxnet, a self-replicating computer worm discovered in 2010 that was commissioned by the U.S. and Israeli governments to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program. Gibney’s work has been celebrated at AFI DOCS in the past: he was honored at the AFI DOCS Charles Guggenheim Symposium in 2014 and he presented his film STEVE JOBS: THE MAN IN THE MACHINE in 2015.

The Closing Night Gala screening of NORMAN LEAR: JUST ANOTHER VERSION OF YOU will be held on June 26 at the Newseum and will feature a post-screening discussion with film subject Norman Lear and Academy Award®-nominated directors Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady. The film chronicles the life and work of Lear, a television icon known for his keen writing and producing talents. His legendary TV shows, which include ALL IN THE FAMILY, THE JEFFERSONS and MAUDE, boldly addressed the topics of race, class and feminism in the 1970s and ’80s. Ewing and Grady previously brought their Oscar®-nominated film JESUS CAMP to AFI DOCS in 2006.

Tickets to AFI DOCS, including Opening Night and Closing Night screenings, will be available early to AFI members exclusively from May 9–17, and to the public on May 18. Passes for AFI DOCS 2016 are now on sale at AFI.com/afidocs. More information about AFI DOCS screenings and other special events will be announced in the coming weeks.

About the Newseum
The Newseum is dedicated to free expression and the five freedoms of the First Amendment: religion, speech, press, assembly and petition. Headquartered on historic Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., the Newseum’s compelling, dynamic and engaging exhibits, programs and education initiatives help ensure that these fundamental freedoms remain strong and protected both today and for future generations. The Newseum Institute promotes the study, exploration and education of the challenges confronting freedom through its First Amendment Center and the Religious Freedom Center. The Newseum is a 501(c)(3) public charity funded by generous individuals, corporations and foundations, including the Freedom Forum. For more information, visit newseum.org and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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About AFI DOCS
AFI DOCS is the American Film Institute’s annual documentary festival in the Washington, DC area. Presenting the year’s best documentaries, AFI DOCS is the only festival in the U.S. dedicated to screenings and events that connect audiences, filmmakers and policy leaders in the seat of our nation’s government. The AFI DOCS advisory board includes Ken Burns, Davis Guggenheim, Chris Hegedus, Werner Herzog, Rory Kennedy, Barbara Kopple, Spike Lee, Errol Morris, Stanley Nelson, D A Pennebaker, Agnès Varda and Frederick Wiseman. The AFI DOCS advisory board includes Ken Burns, Davis Guggenheim, Chris Hegedus, Werner Herzog, Rory Kennedy, Barbara Kopple, Spike Lee, Errol Morris, Stanley Nelson, D A Pennebaker and Frederick Wiseman. Now in its 14th year, the festival will be held June 22–26, 2016 in landmark Washington, DC venues and the historic AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring, MD. Visit AFI.com/afidocs and connect on twitter.com/afidocs, facebook.com/afidocs and youtube.com/AFI.

CONTACT:
Gabrielle Flamand, AFI DOCS PR, 202.339.9598 or gabrielle@prcollaborative.com
Liza Ameen, American Film Institute, 323.856.7885 or LAmeen@AFI.com