'The Central Park Five' Blu-ray Dated

Posted Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 06:00 AM PST by

The latest documentary from acclaimed filmmaker Ken Burns comes to Blu-ray in April.

In an early announcement to retailers, PBS has just revealed 'The Central Park Five' will arrive on Blu-ray on April 23.

On April 20, 1989, the body of a woman barely clinging to life was discovered in Central Park. Within days, Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Korey Wise confessed to her rape and beating after many hours of aggressive interrogation at the hands of seasoned homicide detectives. The police announced to a press hungry for sensational crime stories that the young men had been part of a gang of teenagers who were out “wilding,” assaulting joggers and bicyclists in Central Park that evening. The ensuing media frenzy was met with a public outcry for justice. The young men were tried as adults and convicted of rape, despite inconsistent and inaccurate confessions, DNA evidence that excluded them, and no eyewitness accounts that connected any of them to the victim. The five served their complete sentences, between 6 and 13 years, before another man, serial rapist Matias Reyes, admitted to the crime, and DNA testing supported his confession.

Set against the backdrop of a city beset by violence and facing deepening rifts between races and classes, “THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE” intertwines the stories of these five young men, the victim, police officers and prosecutors, and Matias Reyes, unraveling the forces behind the wrongful convictions. The film illuminates how law enforcement, social institutions and media undermined the very rights of the individuals they were designed to safeguard and protect.

“This is a radical departure for me as a filmmaker,” said Ken Burns. “Eschewing narration, bringing in many new stylistic elements – I think the intensity of the circumstances, and the political and tragic implications absolutely demanded that we implement an intensified discussion. What I think adds to our story is the humanity of the five young men who are at its center, especially because no one was willing to do that during the original media coverage and trial.”

“This case is a lens through which we can understand the ongoing fault-line of race in America,” said Sarah Burns, who also wrote The Central Park Five: A Chronicle of a City Wilding, (Knopf, 2011). “These young men were convicted long before the trial, by a city blinded by fear and, equally, freighted by race. They were convicted because it was all too easy for people to see them as violent criminals simply because of the color of their skin.”

“Ultimately THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE is about human dignity,” said David McMahon. “It is about five young men who lose their youth but maintain their dignity in the face of an horrific and unimaginable situation.”

In 2002, based upon Matias Reyes’s confession, a judge vacated the original convictions of the Central Park Five. A year later, the men filed civil lawsuits against the City of New York, and the police officers and prosecutors who had worked toward their conviction. That lawsuit remains unresolved.

Among those interviewed in the film are: The Central Park Five and members of their families; New York City Mayors Ed Koch and David Dinkins; journalists Jim Dwyer, Natalie Byfield and LynNell Hancock; the Reverend Calvin Butts; and historian Craig Steven Wilder.

Specs and supplements have yet to be revealed, but suggested list price for the Blu-ray is $29.99.

You can find the latest specs for 'The Central Park Five' linked from our Blu-ray Release Schedule, where it's indexed under April 23.

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Discs mentioned in this article: (Click for specs and reviews)
The Central Park Five (Blu-ray)
Tags: Disc Announcements, PBS (all tags)