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London Film Festival Preview: The Central Park Five
Val Phoenix , October 9th, 2012 03:32

Val Phoenix watches an atypical investigation by Emmy winner Ken Burns, screening in the Documentary Competition at the 56th London Film Festival

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Best known for his exhaustive PBS series Jazz (2001), Baseball (1994) and The Civil War (1990), the latest, unusually controversial project from Ken Burns is a workmanlike but effective documentary on a miscarriage of justice that sent five teenage boys to prison for a crime they did not commit. The New York Police Department and prosecutors emerge as the villains of the piece for their railroading of facts and evidence to fit their supposition.

The case of the Central Park jogger who was raped and beaten into a coma was infamous in 1989, and the passing of time has done little to dim the outrage at what can happen when the law loses its way in seeking a quick and easy resolution, irrespective of the truth. The comments from the five men, measured and dignified, stand in stark contrast to the media hysteria that reined at the time, as their case became a symbol of a city divided along class and racial lines.