Ava DuVernay And The Power Of Story Telling Through Films
By now, everyone has seen or at least attempted to watch Ava DuVernay’s mini-series “When They See Us,” a series based off the The Central Park 5 case. We’ve seen many famous court cases come to life on film but none that have invoked this much emotion and reaction. Growing up, everyone was familiar with this case. It was always told as a story of 5, evil black men who were accused and convicted for raping and nearly beating a woman to death in Central Park, New York. Years later, they would be exonerated after DNA proved they weren’t responsible for the assault but that didn’t take away the false accusations and the years they wasted in prison. We know the story told from the media and what we saw in the news, but we’ve never heard it told from the perspective of these 5 men. Thanks to Ava, these men were given back their voice and their truth.
As I write this, I’ve only seen parts one and two of the series. It came out right before I had to head to Texas for a work trip and the first episode was all I could handle at the time. I was simply SHOOK. The imagery, the way Ava was able to setup our introduction to these characters and their families. It was becoming too real too fast and I had to stop. It seems that I wasn’t alone in my feelings. People all over social media were sharing the exact same feeling. Ava eventually spoke out and stated that she separated this film into 4 parts so people could take time digesting and watching at their own pace. She knew how this film was going to make feel us so I’m thankful for the consideration. I think if she would have attempted to put everything into a an hour long movie, we wouldn’t be able to get the full gist of the story.
I’m not surprised that one of Ava’s films was able to pull this much emotion out of me. If you’re familiar with Ava’s previous work like Queen Sugar, 13th, and Selma, then you know how she has the ability to connect an audience with her work. You feel all the emotions as if you are standing right there in the scene with one of the actors. Each and every time, I’m left in a puddle of my emotions and thoughts. Her attention to detail, the creation of bold characters, and setting the perfect scene are parts of what makes Ava’s work great. She wants to make sure you walk away feeling something and this latest project is no different.
This film has also brought new details about this case to the light. We are now familiar with that trash procecutor who was determined to put 5 innocent men in jail. Trust and believe, Linda is now answering for her role in this case. She was dropped from her publishing company, she has resigned from several positions, and Glamour magazine rescinded her 1993 “Woman Of The Year” award. I’m sure these organizations and companies knew who she was before hand and are only doing this now because fear of bad publicity, but I don’t care. I hope she and everyone who is associated with putting these young men in jail answer for their role. I know Karma is a woman because she takes her time and strikes when it hurts the most.
I hope Ava and the rest of the cast sweep this award season. I hope Jharrel Jerome who portrays Korey Wise in this series is given all of his due. I can only imagine the mental state one had to be in portray these characters and thankfully, Ava had a grief counselor on set to assist when things got hard. Ava deserves, the cast deserves and these 5 young men deserve to have their dignity restored in whatever form that is.