We’ve known for a couple of years now that filmmaker Ava DuVernay has been working on a Netflix limited series about the Central Park Five, and now that four-part drama has an official title and premiere date. “When They See Us” debuts on the streaming service on May 31, just in time to qualify for this year’s Emmys. Will it be a winner?
“When They See Us” tells the true story of the five teenage boys, all black or Hispanic, who were wrongly arrested, tried and convicted for the rape of a white woman in 1989. They spent years in prison, and Donald Trump even took out ads calling for them to be executed. But their convictions were vacated in 2002 after they were exonerated by DNA evidence and the confession of a convicted murderer and rapist already in prison at the time. They sued the city and were awarded a $41 million settlement in 2014. Nevertheless, Trump doubled down on his claim that the men were guilty while campaigning for president in 2016.
This is DuVernay’s first project with Netflix since her documentary “13th,” which explored the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution that abolished slavery but opened the door for our current era of mass incarceration. That film earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary Feature and then won her Emmys for Best Documentary and Best Nonfiction Writing.
The miniseries stars Jharrel Jerome (“Moonlight”), Jovan Adepo (“Fences”), Chris Chalk (“12 Years a Slave”), Freddy Miyares and Justin Cunningham as the Central Park Five. Felicity Huffman, Michael K. Williams, Vera Farmiga and John Leguizamo are also among the ensemble cast. Read DuVernay’s Twitter announcement about “When They See Us” below.
Not thugs. Not wilding. Not criminals. Not even the Central Park Five. They are Korey, Antron, Raymond, Yusef, Kevin. They are millions of young people of color who are blamed, judged and accused on sight. May 31. A film in four parts about who they really are. WHEN THEY SEE US. pic.twitter.com/QQBVqo4TYM
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) March 1, 2019
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