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Why Netflix is Right Place For Ava DuVernay's 'When They See Us?'

Debuting May 31, the Central Park Five's story is being told through a Netflix mini-series with Ava DuVernay at the helm. The five Harlem teenagers were convicted of raping a white woman in Central Park and then exonerated 25 years later for the crime. Netflix is the perfect platform to retell this case of racial injustice since the streaming service allows filmmakers' creative freedom.

A mini-series allows filmmakers to tell the story as it should be and not glossed over for a tv movie of the week or documentary. Netflix has been described as a haven for filmmakers and storytellers because they allow autonomy in creating a movie or series instead of the usual studio interference.

The story of the Central Park Five spans 25 years so there's a lot of ground to cover including how the DA's office ignored DNA evidence that exonerated the five kids of color including a Latino.

"When They See Us" stars Michael K. Williams, Vera Farmiga, John Leguizamo, Felicity Huffman, Joshua Jackson and many others. John Leguizamo plays the father of Raymond Santana, the young Latino of the labeled Central Park Five, who was convicted of a crime he did not commit. Also starring are Freddy Miyares (Elementary) and Marquis Rodríguez (Definitely, Maybe, Iron Fist), who both play the role of Raymond Santana at different stages of his life.

As a precursor, watch DuVernay's Netflix documentary, 13th which lays out the long history of racial discrimination in the justice system against African-Americans. After watching both the 13th and "When They See Us," there's no doubt it will leave you feeling angry and upset about the social inequalities that still exist.

When They See Us Netflix

Official 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.

When They See Us was created by Ava DuVernay, who also co-wrote and directed the four parts. Jeff Skoll and Jonathan King from Participant Media, Oprah Winfrey from Harpo Films, and Jane Rosenthal, Berry Welsh and Robert De Niro from Tribeca Productions executive produced the limited series alongside DuVernay through her banner, Array FilmWorks. In addition to DuVernay, Attica Locke, Robin Swicord, and Michael Starrbury also served as writers on the limited series.

The series stars Emmy Award® Nominee Michael K. Williams, Academy Award® Nominee Vera Farmiga, Emmy Award® Winner John Leguizamo, Academy Award® Nominee and Emmy Award® Winner Felicity Huffman, Emmy Award® Nominee Niecy Nash, Emmy Award® Winner and two-time Golden Globe Nominee Blair Underwood, Emmy Award® and Grammy Award® Winner and Tony Award® Nominee 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, Dascha Polanco, Chris Chalk, Freddy Miyares, Justin Cunningham, Ethan Herisse, Caleel Harris, Marquis Rodriguez, and Asante Blackk.


About the Social Impact Campaign:

Alongside the release of When They See Us, Participant Media, in collaboration with Color Of Change, Vera Institute of Justice, Institute for Innovation in Prosecution at John Jay College, and The Opportunity Agenda, among others, will launch a social impact campaign aimed at supporting the work of the criminal justice reform movement. The campaign will focus on shifting perceptions of Black and Brown youth in media coverage and helping prosecutors with new approaches rooted in human dignity and racial equity. The series debuts globally on Netflix on May 31.

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