In their documentary The Central Park Five, David Mac Mahon, Sarah Burns and Ken Burns examine the case of the Central Park rape. In the late 1980s, the story triggered strong emotions in New-Yorkers and a sensational media storm across the US. It turned out to be a tale of racial injustice.
The 80s was a time of great renewal for Central Park. At the beginning of the decade, The Central Park Conservancy was newly established to revitalize what had become a vandalized, neglected, and dangerous 843 acre park. Rapes and murders commonly occurred in the park in the 70s and the Conservancy was determined to reclaim the area. However in 1989, despite all of the progress made in the park, a heinous rape and assault of a woman named Tricia Meili occured. Five black and Latino teenagers were arrested and convinced even though there were was poor evidence and no eye witnesses. Years later, a serial rapist named Matias Reyes confessed to the crime and the Central Park Five, no longer teenagers, were released from prison.
In their new documentary, David Mac Mahon, Sarah Burns and Ken Burns tell the story of the proceeding, the failure of the media and officials, and the racial tension that ultimately put five innocent men behind bars. If you happen to be in France tonight, you can pop by the Salle du Soixantième at 7:45pm for the screening. But, if you’re with us in the city, you’ll have to wait until PBS releases the film in 2013. Luckily, there are some great clips of the film on the Cannes website: