New York City will not be able to look at footage and other material from Ken Burns’ The Central Park Five documentary, a federal judge ruled today. U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald L. Ellis ruled in favor of Burns’ Florentine Films’ November 2012 motion to quash the city’s efforts to see outtakes, notes and more from the film. “Florentine has established entitlement to the reporter’s privilege” said the judge Tuesday in his 15-page order (read it here) “Defendants have failed to overcome the reporter’s privilege by making a showing that the information they seek pertains to a significant issue and is unavailable from alternative sources,” he added. Burns and fellow filmmakers David McMahon and Sarah Burns’ documentary centers on the wrongful conviction of five youths in 1989 for the heavily reported brutal rape of a jogger in the NYC park. Upon their release, the now-grown men filed a $50 million lawsuit against the city. On October 2nd of last year, the City of New York issued subpoenas against Florentine in an effort to see whether there is material or documentation from the making of the film that could exonerate their officials’ handling of the initial case. “While journalistic privilege under the law is very important, we firmly believe it did not apply here. This film is a one-sided advocacy piece that depicts the plaintiffs’ version of events as undisputed fact. It is our view that we should be able to view the complete interviews, not just those portions that the filmmakers chose to include,” said the City Attorney’s office today after the ruling. City lawyers are considering whether to take a new approach to the matter, their office said Tuesday. IFC Films released Central Park Five theatrically on November 23 and on VOD on December 7.
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.