The “Central Park Five” may have been immortalized with the name, but it’s always important to remember that each member of that historic group is a person. Humanizing them is important.
It looks like award-winning director Ava DuVernay is attempting to do just that with her new limited series about these five black and Latino boys who were wrongfully convicted of rape. DuVernay had been sharing behind-the-scenes scoop on the film—dubbed “Central Park Five”—via her social media and taking us along for the ride.
Now, we’ve reached a pivotal stop in the journey: the official title. Netflix presents When They See Us.
Per Netflix’s press release:
Based on a true story that gripped the country, When They See Us will chronicle the notorious case of five teenagers of color, labeled the Central Park Five, who were convicted of a rape they did not commit. The four part limited series will focus on the five teenagers from Harlem — Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Korey Wise. Beginning in the spring of 1989, when the teenagers were first questioned about the incident, the series will span 25 years, highlighting their exoneration in 2002 and the settlement reached with the city of New York in 2014.
“In 1989, five black and brown teen boys were wrongly accused of a crime they did not commit and branded The Central Park Five, a moniker that has followed them since that time,” DuVernay said via the press release. “In 2019, our series gives the five men a platform to finally raise their voices and tell their full stories. In doing so, Korey, Antron, Raymond, Kevin and Yusef also tell the story of many young people of color unjustly ensnared in the criminal justice system. We wanted to reflect this perspective in our title, embracing the humanity of the men and not their politicized moniker.”
The final shot in the teaser is very well framed, and I’m looking forward to how this is tackled.
Created by DuVernay, When They See Us features a heavy-hitting cast including Michael K. Williams, Vera Farmiga, John Leguizamo, Felicity Huffman, Niecy Nash, Blair Underwood, Christopher Jackson, Joshua Jackson, Omar J. Dorsey, Adepero Oduye, Famke Janssen, Aurora Perrineau, William Sadler, Jharrel Jerome, Jovan Adepo, Aunjanue Ellis, Kylie Bunbury, Marsha Stephanie Blake, Storm Reid, Chris Chalk, Freddy Miyares, Justin Cunningham, Ethan Herisse, Caleel Harris, Marquis Rodriguez, and Asante Blackk. Along with co-writing and directing the four-part series, DuVernay’s Forward Movement will executive produce alongside Jeff Skoll and Jonathan King (Participant Media), Oprah Winfrey (Harpo Films), and Jane Rosenthal, Berry Welsh and Robert De Niro (Tribeca Productions).
When They See Us premieres on Netflix on Friday, May 31.