When five black and Latino teenagers were charged with the attack and rape of a female jogger in Central Park in 1989 — falsely, it turned out — the mood in New York City was one of deep-seated fear. The Central Park Five, a documentary by Ken and Sarah Burns, examines this hysteria, casting a spotlight on the mob mentality of the major news outlets and the New York Police Department’s treatment of the accused.
“People were afraid, period. Crime rates were much higher at the time, and there was a sense that the source of the city’s problem were these minority teenagers,” co-director Sarah Burns says of NYC’s cultural climate at the time. Though the five innocent men have since been exonerated — after some served more than a decade in prison — their story has gone largely untold…until now.
Based on Sarah Burns’s book, the movie talks to the falsely accused, former mayor Ed Koch, reporters and legal teams — contextualizing a case that was all but closed as soon as it occurred. The Central Park Five opens tonight at the Sie FilmCenter, 2510 East Colfax Avenue; tickets are $7 to $10 and can be purchased at the box office, at www.denverfilm.org or at 303-595-3456.
Dec. 21-27, 2012