Ava DuVernay is an American director and screenwriter, better known for her job in Selma and in the Netflix documentary 13th. For her work in Selma, she was the first black female director to be nominated for a Golden Globe Award and the first black female director to have her film nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture, even though she was not nominated for Best Director. This year, for 13th, she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.
Now, in another alliance with Netflix, DuVernay is adapting the story of the Central Park Five in a five-part limited series coming in 2019.
The Central Park Five is a documentary based on the notorious case of The Central Park jogger, where five young black men were wrongly convicted for the rape of Trisha Meili, a female jogger, that took place in Manhattan’s park during the spring of 1989.
The five men — Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Korey Wise — were freed after ten years in prison when DNA evidence proved they were not responsible for the attack on the young woman.
The series will start when they were first questioned about the incident, in the spring of 1989, until 2014, when they were exonerated and a settlement was reached with the city of New York, and each of the five parts will focus on one of the teenagers, showing how the criminal justice system handled them and the case, what they went through and everything that followed.
When asked about why this story and why Netflix, DuVernay said:
“I had an extraordinary experience working with Netflix on 13th and am overjoyed to continue this exploration of the criminal justice system as a narrative project with Cindy Holland and the team there. The story of the men known as the Central Park Five has riveted me for more than two decades. In their journey, we witness five innocent young men of colour who were met with injustice at every turn — from coerced confessions to unjust incarceration to public calls for their execution by the man who would go on to be the president of the United States.”
Donald Trump, the current president of the United States, was one of the most vocal during the Central Park Five trail. He spent around $85,000 on full-page ads in New York’s major daily newspapers that called for the city to reinstate the death penalty and although they have been exonerated and vindicated, Trump still referrers to them as guilty.
This is what Cindy Holland, vice president of Netflix original content, had to say when asked about this project:
“This is one of the most talked-about cases of our time and Ava’s passionate vision and masterful direction will bring the human stories behind the headlines to life in this series. After powerfully reframing the public conversation about criminality and injustice in ’13th,’ Ava now turns a new lens to a case that exposes deep flaws in our criminal justice system.”
On board as executive producers are Jeff Skoll and Jonathan King from Participant Media, Oprah Winfrey with Harpo Films, Jane Rosenthal and Berry Welsh from Tribeca Productions and DuVernay herself.
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As of right now, DuVernay’s upcoming projects include the second season of Queen Sugar, who has just premiered on OWN, and next is the premiere of her big-budget adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time with Disney.