It was only five years ago when I stood next to Ava DuVernay prior to a screening and reception for her BET documentary “My Mic Sounds Nice” at Paramount in New York City. She was excited and nervous to see what the invited guests would say about her project, and understandably so. Since that time, Ms. DuVernay has become one of the most celebrated names in film.
Her next Netflix project will take a look at one of the most egregious instances of racism and scapegoating in modern memory, the case of the Central Park Five.
Like her critically-acclaimed Netflix documentary 13th, her limited series will put the American criminal justice system on trial, breaking down how prosecutors handled each phase of the unfortunate, racist affair. Each part will focus on a particular individual of the five Harlemites involved, who literally were at the wrong place at the wrong time.
In 2012, famed documentarian Ken Burns did a film on this subject as well. However, he doesn’t have the ability to craft negritude into the documenting of the black American experience like Ava. So, we’ll be in like Flynn when the press rounds are made.
“I had an extraordinary experience working with Netflix on 13th and am overjoyed to continue this exploration of the criminal justice system as a narrative project with Cindy Holland and the team there,” said DuVernay. “The story of the men known as the Central Park Five has riveted me for more than two decades. In their journey, we witness five innocent young men of color who were met with injustice at every turn from coerced confessions to unjust incarceration to public calls for their execution by the man who would go on to be the president of the United States.”
The title of Ava DuVernay’s extraordinary and galvanizing documentary 13TH refers to the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which reads “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States.”
Not only will DuVernay direct but she’ll co-produce as well.
Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Korey Wise were released from prison in 2002 after having served more than a decade when DNA evidence proved they were innocent and not responsible for the brutal attack and rape on the victim who was then known as The Central Park Jogger.
Donald Trump was instrumental in the Central Park Five witch hunt, spending a reported $85,000 for full-page ads in New York’s newspapers that called for the death penalty. Despite the five young men being exonerated without a shadow of a doubt, Trump has referred to them as guilty as recently as last year.
“This is one of the most talked-about cases of our time, and Ava’s passionate vision and masterful direction will bring the human stories behind the headlines to life in this series,” said Cindy Holland, Netflix’s vp original content. “After powerfully reframing the public conversation about criminality and injustice in 13th, Ava now turns a new lens to a case that exposes deep flaws in our criminal justice system.”