New York, NY (August 6, 2012) – Sundance Selects announced today that the company is acquiring U.S. theatrical rights to acclaimed documentary THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE. Ken Burns co-directed, wrote and produced the project with his daughter, Sarah Burns (author of the book "The Central Park Five: A Chronicle of a City Wilding") and her husband, David McMahon. The documentary, which is Ken Burns' first theatrical release since HUEY LONG in 1985, was recently announced as part of the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival's documentary lineup and as the Closing Night film of the third annual DOC NYC festival in November. THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE made its world premiere earlier this year as an official selection at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival.
In 1989, five black and Latino teenagers from Harlem were arrested and later convicted of brutally beating and raping a white woman in New York City's Central Park. New York Mayor Ed Koch called it the "crime of the century" and it remains to date one of the biggest media stories of our time. The five each spent between 6 and 13 years in prison before a shocking confession from a serial rapist and DNA evidence proved their innocence. Set against a backdrop of a decaying city beset by violence and racial tension, THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE tells the story of how five lives were upended by the rush to judgment by police, a sensationalist media and a devastating miscarriage of justice.
Jonathan Sehring, President of Sundance Selects/IFC Films said: "It's incredibly rare to see Ken Burns' name associated with a theatrical documentary but working with Sarah Burns and David McMahon, he has made an exceptional one. We're honored to be working with the filmmakers on this thoughtful and timely film that exposes a huge miscarriage of justice."
"This story again exposes the deep fault line of race that runs through our American experience," commented Burns. "It was all too easy for people to see these five teenagers as violent criminals simply because of the color of their skin. We are so thrilled to be partnering with Sundance Selects/IFC Films to bring light to the untold story of THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE."
The deal for THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE was negotiated by Jeff Deutchman, Director of Acquisitions & Productions for Sundance Selects/IFC Films, with co-director, writer and producer McMahon on behalf of the filmmakers.
IFC Films and Sundance Selects are sister labels, owned and operated by AMC Networks Inc.