Jim Dwyer

The Central Park Five

Editor’s note: The Central Park Five begins a limited roll-out today, so here is a re-run of our Cannes Film Festival review, originally published on May 27, 2012. The Cannes official selection usually includes a couple of interesting documentaries to cleanse the pallet of all the high-art and fiction, and this feature-length portrait of the infamous New York rape case certainly offered something more for those film fans who like to get their factual kicks, from director/producer trio Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, and David McMahon. For those whose who are not familiar with the film’s story, The Central Park Five case chronicles the 1989 rape of a white female jogger, who was discovered badly beaten and barely alive in Central Park. Five black and Latino youths from Harlem, just 14 to 16 years old, were subsequently taken in for questioning, and under coercion and pressurized circumstances confessed separately (or implicated one another) to their involvement in the beating and rape. Their confessions were contradictory, and certain details of the evidence didn’t corroborate their guilt, but the five were charged and sent to prison regardless, serving between 6 and 13 years for a crime they maintained never to have committed.

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