The Central Park Five

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The Central Park Five
The Central Park Five poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Ken Burns
Sarah Burns
David McMahon
Sundance Selects
Florentine Films
The Central Park Five Film Project
Distributed by Sundance Selects
Release dates
  • May 24, 2012 (2012-05-24) (Cannes Film Festival)
  • November 23, 2012 (2012-11-23) (United States)
Running time
119 min
Country United States
Language English

The Central Park Five is a 2012 documentary film about the Central Park jogger case, directed by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, and David McMahon. It was released in the US on November 23, 2012.


The documentary provides background, interviews, expert analysis and details of associated facts related to the Central Park jogger case and the conviction of the five suspects. Although four of the suspects had confessed on videotape in the presence of a parent or guardian, they retracted their statements within weeks, claiming that they had been intimidated, lied to, and coerced into making false confessions.[1]

In 2002, convicted rapist and murderer Matias Reyes, serving a life sentence for other crimes but not, at that point, associated by the police with the attack on the jogger Trisha Meili, declared that he had committed the assault when he was 17, and that he had acted alone. The documentary presents analysis to suggest that the police should have connected Reyes to the Central Park case at the time that it happened.

The DNA evidence confirmed his participation in the crime and identified him as the sole contributor of the semen found in and on the victim. Justice Charles J. Tejada of State Supreme Court in Manhattan vacated all convictions against the young men in connection with the jogger attack and a spree of robberies and assaults in the park that night.


Critic A. O. Scott of The New York Times said of the film, which he ranked as the fifth best documentary of 2012: "A notorious crime—the rape of a jogger in Central Park in 1989—is revisited in this painful, angry, scrupulously reported story of race, injustice and media frenzy."[2]

It received a Peabody Award in 2013 "for telling a harrowing, instructive story of fear, racism and mob mentality, and for exposing the media madness that fueled the investigation."[3]

Currently, the film has a rating of 94% on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 57 reviews and an average score of 7.9/10.[4]


  1. ^ Schanberg, Sydney (November 26, 2002). "A Journey Through the Tangled Case of the Central Park Jogger". Village Voice. Retrieved 2007-08-21. Every now and again, we get a look, usually no more than a glimpse, at how the justice system really works. What we see before the sanitizing curtain is drawn abruptly down is a process full of human fallibility and error, sometimes noble, more often unfair, rarely evil but frequently unequal, and through it all inevitably influenced by issues of race and class and economic status. In short, it's a lot like other big, unwieldy institutions. Such a moment of clear sight emerges from the mess we know as the case of the Central Park jogger. 
  2. ^ Scott, A.O. (December 14, 2012). "25 Favorites From A Year When 10 Aren't Enough". The New York Times. 
  3. ^ 73rd Annual Peabody Awards, May 2014.
  4. ^ "The Central Park Five Movie Reviews". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 16, 2013. 

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