Filmmaker Ken Burns (The Civil War) seems to be moving away from his usual brand of PBS documentaries, at least for his latest, The Central Park Five, a directorial collaboration with his daughter, Sarah, and her husband, David McMahon. It will be a straight feature film with no narration, and they’re hoping for theatrical distribution before it airs on television. Ken Burns spoke to TV Guide about the idea:
“We want to do it [theatrically] because the running time makes it manageable, and there’s something urgent about it,” Burns says of the film, which was completed in early April and premieres at next month’s Cannes Film Festival.
The subject of the doc is a 1989 rape case and the teenagers who were wrongly imprisoned for the crime. Sarah Burns has been researching the story for years and published a book called The Central Park Five: A Chronicle of a City Wilding last year. Her father is also quoted by TV Guide on the suggestion that this is a very different project for him:
“When people see there’s no narration and it’s really fast paced, they go ‘Wow, this is a departure,’” says the elder Burns, whose last proper theatrical release (aside from a few brief Oscar-qualifying runs) was the 1985 politico biopic Huey Long. “It’s a departure only in the most superficial way. In nearly every film, we’ve struggled to come to terms with America’s original sin, which is race. One only needs to pick up the paper to read about Trayvon Martin, or look at the history books and the Scottsboro Boys, to understand that, unfortunately, it’s not some unique story in American history.”
For more details and quotes, check out the full article here.