I’m an unabashed admirer of the work of doumentary filmmaker Ken Burns. His PBS extensive muti-part documentaries which chronicle the culture and history of America such Jazz, Frank Lloyd Wright, The Civil War and most recently last fall, Prohibition are amazing examples of documentary filmmaking at its most compelliing.
Let’s put it this way. Any filmmaker who can take a subject which bores me to tears, like baseball (which Bill Cosby once accurately called “nine guys standing out in field doing nothing”) as a subject for a nine part, 18 and half hour long documentary mini-series that had me spellbound and riveted to my seat for every single minute, is one hell of a filmmaker (And I told him that when I had a few chances to meet Burns – I’ve got a feeling he’s heard that a lot).
Now after dealing with history, sports, music, war and architects among other subjects, Burns turns his attention to racial injustce. What could be more American than that?
So at the Cannes Film Festival this month, Burns will screen his latest work, The Central Park Five which Burns co-directed with his daughter Sarah Burns, and his son-in-law David McMahon.
The documentary chronicles the controversial crime case which took place in 1989, and which became a media sensation across the country, when five black and Latino teenagers were arrested and convicted for the brutal rape and assault of Tricia Meili, only to be released after the real attacker confessed in 2002.
Burns is screening the film at Cannes in the hopes of finding a theatrical distributor. As he was quoted; “We want to release it theatrically because the running time makes it managable and there’s something urgent about it.”
But although he has been to Cannes before in 2007, for a previous screening of one of his works, the venue is definitely not his normal habitat. He feels: “A little out of place without the right sunglasses for the Croissette,” as he’s quoted as saying.
The documentary is scheduled to be broadcast on PBS in 2013 or 2014, which begs the question – why do we have to wait so long to see it?
Don’t you want to see it now?