Bill Genovese's decade-long journey to unravel the truth about the mythic death and little-known life of his sister, Kitty, who was reportedly stabbed in front of 38 witnesses and became the face of urban apathy. THE WITNESS begins in 2004 when The Times questions its original story: the number of witnesses, what they observed, the number of attacks. None was more affected by the story than Bill. He vowed not to be like the 38, volunteered for Vietnam, and lost both legs. What if Kitty's mythic story is an urban myth? Breaking his family's half-century of silence, Bill seeks to find the truth confronting the witnesses, the killer, their families and his own. THE WITNESS is about bearing witness, loss and forgiveness, and what we owe each other.Written by
Kitty Genovese's occupation was a bar manager. See more »
If I was going to have more success, Charlie Skoller suggested that I start with the trial transcript. My family couldn't bear to go to the trial in 1964 so I never heard the testimony of the witnesses. Only 5 of the 38 witnesses were called to take the stand.
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Incredibly absorbing deep-dive into one man's emotional obsession
I saw this new doc at a double play with The Lovers and The Despot and the two films couldn't be more different. In scale, the two subjects don't match at all: one woman's senseless 50-year-old slaying against a couple of South Korean filmmakers captive to the whims of Kim Jong Il. Yet The Lovers and The Despot put me to sleep.
The Witness, by contrast, kept me riveted. My jaw dropped, my eyes wet, I got very angry --- everything you want from a good documentary. I'm old enough to remember the murder of Kitty Genovese or at least the aftermath. You know, the woman who screamed for help and was murdered over a 35 minute period while her neighbors did nothing to assist her?
Or did they? And that's where The Witness really goes in for the choke. What you thought you knew for certain may not be true, just as what Kitty's brother Bill assumed was fact and based many of his voluntary (and involuntary) life decisions upon for the rest of his life.
Filmmaker James Solomon holds back nothing while holding his subjects in nothing but the utmost respect. This is largely in credit to Bill Genovese who displays incredible honesty, tolerance, and courage as he uncovers holes, detours, and details in his sister's senseless murder and it's subsequent reporting and media blitz that are shocking and very disturbing.
But you're never invited to pity Solomon, and you won't. The Witness takes a very grim and depressing event and turns it inside out by placing you as close to the action as possible, then gently daring you to not look away. You won't.
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