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The Central Park Five (2012)

Not Rated | | Documentary, Crime, History | 23 November 2012 (USA)
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A documentary that examines the 1989 case of five black and Latino teenagers who were convicted of raping a white woman in Central Park. After having spent between 6 and 13 years each in prison, a serial rapist confessed to the crime.

Directors:

Ken Burns, Sarah Burns | 1 more credit »
10 wins & 17 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Antron McCray ... Himself - Wrongfully Convicted (voice)
Kevin Richardson Kevin Richardson ... Himself - Wrongfully Convicted
Yusef Salaam ... Himself - Wrongfully Convicted
Raymond Santana ... Himself - Wrongfully Convicted
Kharey Wise ... Himself - Wrongfully Convicted (as Korey Wise)
Matias Reyes Matias Reyes ... Himself - Confessed Rapist (archive footage) (archive sound)
Jim Dwyer Jim Dwyer ... Himself - New York Times
Angela Black Angela Black ... Herself - Kevin's Sister
Ed Koch ... Himself - Former Mayor, New York
Craig Steven Wilder Craig Steven Wilder ... Himself - Historian
LynNell Hancock LynNell Hancock ... Herself - Journalist
Calvin O. Butts III Calvin O. Butts III ... Himself - Reverend (as Rev. Calvin Butts)
Raymond Santana Sr. Raymond Santana Sr. ... Himself - Raymond's Father
Michael Warren Michael Warren ... Himself - Lawyer
Natalie Byfield Natalie Byfield ... Herself - Daily News
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Storyline

In 1989, five black and Latino teenagers from Harlem were arrested and later convicted of raping a white woman in New York City's Central Park. They spent between 6 and 13 years in prison before a serial rapist confessed that he alone had committed the crime, leading to their convictions being overturned. Set against a backdrop of a decaying city beset by violence and racial tension, THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE tells the story of that horrific crime, the rush to judgment by the police, a media clamoring for sensational stories and an outraged public, and the five lives upended by this miscarriage of justice. Written by CP5

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

23 November 2012 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Los cinco de Central Park See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$30,570, 23 November 2012, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$273,747, 6 January 2013
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Florentine Films,WETA See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Quotes

Jim Dwyer - New York Times: What ever you do in life, you make mistakes, and you either face your mistakes, or you don't. I don't think the Press faced it's mistakes. I don't think the Police Department faced the truth in what had happened, because the truth of what had happened is almost unbearable. By prosecuting the wrong people in the central park rape case, Matais Reyes continued to hurt, maim and kill. And They could have had him, but they got stuck with a mistake, and they are still invested in that mistake.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Ken Burns: America's Storyteller (2017) See more »

Soundtracks

I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to Be Free
Music by Billy Taylor
Lyrics by Billy Taylor and Dick Dallas
Published by Duane Music Inc.
Performed by Doug Wamble
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User Reviews

Reliving this horrific case through the eyes of the wrongfully convicted
14 June 2014 | by BrianDanaCampSee all my reviews

As someone who remembers this case well, it's pretty sobering to be faced with these five men 23 years after the fact recounting their version of events that occurred when they were teens and hard not to feel sorry for them. Worse, one can't help but wonder how such a miscarriage of justice could have happened with everybody watching. All I can think is that these boys were handy scapegoats for a decade of out-of-control crime and violence in New York and they became sacrificial lambs. Somebody had to pay the price. These five just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, admittedly doing the wrong thing (running with a mob of teens committing random attacks on white joggers and bicyclists), and the cops needed convenient suspects who were young and vulnerable enough to be manipulated into confessing to the most serious crime that occurred that night. Their convictions and a handful of other high-profile incidents during the Dinkins administration paved the way for the election of Rudolph Giuliani as mayor and a new era of proactive law enforcement and a relentless stop-and-frisk campaign aimed at black and Latino men in the city's poorer communities.

Does the film make its case without flaws? No. The deck is too stacked. They should have allowed some representative of the police or D.A.'s office to explain themselves. Michael F. Armstrong, counsel for the NYPD, says he spent half-a-day being interviewed on camera for the film and was then not included in the final cut. Some attention should have been given to what these five boys were doing in the park that night and what other crimes they themselves might have been implicated in. Yes, they describe some acts they saw being committed by other boys and either outright deny their involvement or couch it in vague terms. I think it would have been good to know if the police had direct evidence of these boys' participation in other crimes that night. For one thing, it would mean these kids might not have been the saints they're made out to be, which of course doesn't justify false accusations and wrongful convictions, as the most vocal critics of this film seem to think, but it means recognizing a significant gray area here. If they actually did participate in the mob violence that night, some attention might have been usefully paid to the whole issue of how seemingly otherwise good kids from poor but stable homes with fathers present in their lives can get caught up in that kind of lawlessness.

Also, more importantly, they should have had some expert on hand to address the whole phenomenon of false or coerced confessions and give their objective assessment of this particular case and perhaps give other known examples of established false confessions, just to provide some context and answer those critics who stand by the notion of absolute guilt based on confession. It's touched on in a couple of the interviews, but not by a recognized expert on the issue and not in any depth.

Still, it's a powerful piece and has far fewer Ken Burns-style gimmicks than we see in his other films. He manages to stay out of his own way for much of the time and let the interview subjects have their say. Maybe that's a result of having directorial collaborators.


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