German festival release poster
|Directed by||Larry Clark
|Produced by||Kees Kasander
|Written by||Larry Clark
|Edited by||Andrew Hafitz|
Kasander Film Company
|Distributed by||Vitagraph Films (US)
Ken Park is a 2002 drama-erotic film written by Harmony Korine, who based it on Larry Clark's journals and stories. The film was directed by Clark and Ed Lachman. The film is an international co-production of the United States, the Netherlands, and France. The film revolves around the abusive and/or dysfunctional home lives of several teenagers, set in the city of Visalia, California.
The opening of the film depicts teenager Ken Park (nicknamed "Krap Nek") skateboarding across Visalia. He arrives at a skate park, where he casually sits in the middle of it, sets up a camcorder, smiles at the camera, and shoots himself in the temple with a handgun. His death is used to bookend the film, which follows the lives of four teens who knew him in the weeks running up to his suicide.
Shawn is the most stable of the four main characters. He's polite and caring. Throughout the story he has an ongoing sexual relationship with his girlfriend's mother Rhonda. He casually socializes with her family, who are all completely unaware of the affair, including his girlfriend.
Claude fends off physical and emotional abuse from his alcoholic father while trying to take care of his neglectful pregnant mother, who never does anything to defend him. Claude's father detests him for being insufficiently manly. However, after coming home drunk one night, he attempts to perform oral sex on Claude, prompting the boy to run away from home.
Peaches is a girl living alone with her obsessive and overly-religious father, who fixates on her as the embodiment of her deceased mother. When her father catches her and her boyfriend Curtis on her bed about to have sex, he beats the boy and savagely disciplines her, including forcing her to participate in a quasi-incestuous wedding ritual with him.
Tate is an unstable and sadistic adolescent living with his grandparents, whom he resents and frequently abuses verbally. He is shown engaging in autoerotic asphyxiation during masturbation. He eventually kills his grandparents in their bed, in retaliation for his grandfather "cheating" at Scrabble and his grandmother for "invading his privacy". He finds that the act arouses him sexually. He records himself on his tape recorder so the police will know how and why he killed his grandparents. After finishing recording, he puts his grandfather's dentures in his mouth, lies naked in his bed, and falls asleep.
The film cuts frequently between subplots, with no overlap of characters or events until the end. As Tate is arrested for murder, Shawn, Claude, and Peaches meet and have sex as a threesome, while Gary Stewart plays. The ending finally reveals the motive behind Ken Park's suicide: he has impregnated his girlfriend, who responds to his suggestion of an abortion by asking if he wishes he'd been aborted himself. Realizing that he'd rather never have been born, he sets out to the skate park to kill himself.
- Adam Chubbuck as Ken Park
- James Bullard as Shawn
- Stephen Jasso as Claude
- Tiffany Limos as Peaches
- James Ransone as Tate
- Maeve Quinlan as Rhonda
- Eddie Daniels as Shawn's mother
- Seth Gray as Shawn's brother
- Bill Fagerbakke as Bob
- Patricia Place as Tate's grandmother
- Harrison Young as Tate's grandfather
- Amanda Plummer as Claude's mother
- Wade Williams as Claude's father
- Julio Oscar Mechoso as Peaches' father
- Zara McDowell as Zoe
- Mike Apaletegui as Curtis
- Richard Riehle as Murph
- Larry Clark as Hot dog vendor
Clark attempted to write the first script for Ken Park, basing it on personal experiences and people with whom he had grown up. Dissatisfied with his own draft, he hired Harmony Korine to pen the screenplay. Clark ultimately used most of Korine's script, but rewrote the ending. The film was given a $1.3 million budget. The arrangement was to film using digital video, but Clark and Lachman used 35mm film instead. 
Although it was sold for distribution to some 30 countries, the film was not shown in the United Kingdom after director Larry Clark assaulted Hamish McAlpine, the head of the UK distributor for the film, Metro Tartan. Clark is alleged to have been angry over McAlpine's remarks about 9/11. Clark was arrested and spent several hours in custody, and McAlpine was left with a broken nose. The film has not been released in the United States since its initial showing at the Telluride Film Festival in 2002. Clark says that this is because of the producer's failure to get copyright releases for the music used. The film was banned in Australia due to its graphic sexual content and portrayals of underage sexual activity after it was refused a classification by the Australian Classification Board on June 6, 2003. A protest screening held in Sydney was shut down by the police. The films remains banned in Australia to this day and has not been successfully appealed since.
- Macnab, Geoffrey; Swart, Sharon (2013). FilmCraft: Producing (Ebook). Taylor & Francis. ISBN 9781136071171. Retrieved 25 January 2016.
- "Ken Park (2002) Technical Specifications". IMDB. Retrieved 25 January 2016.
- Police quiz critic after raid By Kirsty Needham, The Age, July 4, 2003. Accessed May 30, 2007
- Article in the BBC Collective
- "Too much verité...". The Observer. November 17, 2002. Retrieved October 20, 2015.
- "The Nerve Interview: Larry Clark". Nerve. 2006-09-20.