Veteran documentarian Ken Burns is in the news for his latest film, The Central Park Five co-directed by daughter, Sarah and son-in-law, David McMahon. Raw footage from the film, including extensive interviews with the five men convicted (and later exonerated) of rape in 1989, is being subpoenaed by New York City as part of their defence in a federal lawsuit.
The men who became known as the 'Central Park Five,' Yusef Salaam, Antron McCray, Raymond Santana, Kharey Wise and Kevin Richardson, were convicted of a brutal attack and rape of a woman in 1989. The case against the men is widely believed to have been racially motivated. They were later exonerated when another man, Matias Reyes confessed to the crime. DNA analysis later confirmed that Reyes had committed the rape and that hair evidence used in the original trial did not correlate. The five filed a federal case against the city of New York nine years ago seeking $50 million each. The city has subpoenaed documentary footage from Burns and his production company, Florentine Films that could be used in their defence against the multi-million dollar claim.
Burns is refusing to release the footage, citing state laws designed to protect journalists from having to compromise their sources. The city denies this right by arguing that Burns and his daughter have publicly sided with the men and the documentary is an advocacy film.
Burns has vowed to fight the subpoena.
The Central Park Five premiered at Cannes.
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