*Over a month after the City of New York issued a subpoena against Ken Burns’ upcoming “Central Park Five” documentary, the filmmaker’s lawyers are formally seeking to quash the city’s efforts, reports Deadline.com.
Burns and fellow filmmakers David McMahon and Sarah Burns’ documentary centers on the wrongful conviction of five young males (four African American youths, one Hispanic youth) in 1989 for the heavily reported brutal rape of white jogger Trisha Meili in the NYC park.
The convictions were vacated in 2002 when another man claimed to have committed the crime alone and DNA evidence confirmed his involvement in the rape. Upon their release, the now-grown Central Park Five filed a $50 million lawsuit against the city.
New York wants to see whether there is material or documentation from the making of the film that could exonerate their officials’ handling of the initial case. Their 27-page memorandum filed last week states: “The City defendants’ sweeping subpoena for nearly all of the video and audio recordings gathered by Florentine Films in its research for the documentary film The Central Park Five is substantially overbroad, premature and fails to overcome the qualified reporter’s privilege that applies to these unpublished, non-confidential newsgathering materials.”
Florentine’s lawyers, meanwhile, think the City is fishing. “Providing nothing so far other than conjecture as to relevance, it is clear that the City has issued the Subpoena as nothing more than a speculative probe premised on the vague hope for impeachment or other useful evidence without any showing that it relates to ‘a significant issue in the case,’ ’’ says the filmmakers’ filing.
IFC Films is releasing Central Park Five theatrically on Nov. 23, and the docu will air on PBS early next year; the legal action will not impact distribution plans. Watch the trailer below.