Film Review: The Central Park Five

The Central Park Five is a powerful documentary. The topic of the film is certainly one that needs exposure.

In April 1989, a young female jogger is brutally attacked and left for dead in New York’s Central Park. Five teenagers are arrested and eventually charged with the crime following hours of questioning and taped confessions. The documentary uncovers how the American justice system failed the accused teens…

Directed by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon, The Central Park Five offers a comprehensive overview of the case and the failings that were made along the way. Although the crime and court case was a big story at the time, later developments have been less well publicised. Not all viewers, therefore, will be aware of case. The documentary does an excellent job of relaying the details, as well as setting the specific case against the backdrop of New York in the late 1980s, with the resulting class and race divides.

The Central Park Five features interviews with the accused. The film also includes several other contributors, such as lawyers, reporters and historians. Given the facts of the case, it is unsurprising that law enforcement individuals did not want to take part. It is the testimony of the five, as well as the family members, that is most affecting.

The Central Park Five is a superb documentary because it offers an in-depth focus on the initial crime and case, as well as the aftermath on a personal and public level. Moreover, the insight given by reporters, historians and others give a context to reactions to the case. The story relayed is such so important and shocking. This documentary does it justice.

The Central Park Five is being screened at the London Film Festival in October 2012.

London Film Festival 2012 Launch

The BFI London Film Festival’s full programme was announced on Wednesday 5th September. This year, the festival is slightly shorter (twelve days instead of fourteen), but screenings will take place at more venues around London. Prior to the launch, it was announced that Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie would open the festival, and the new adaptation of Great Expectations would close it.

There are not many surprises in the programme. One change to this years proceedings is the dividing of films into new categories such as ‘Love’ and ‘Thrill’. I’m not sure exactly how this will pan out for films more difficult to define. The gala screenings offer some anticipated films, such as Ben Affleck’s Argo and Hyde Park on Hudson, starring Bill Murray. Documentaries that look interesting include The Central Park Five, Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God, and Love, Marilyn. Also to look out for are Seven Psychopaths, Nameless Gangster: Rules of the Time, Antiviral and The Reluctant Fundamentalist.

The BFI London Film Festival runs from 10 – 21 October 2012.