Drama centres on wrongful conviction true story.

Ava DuVernay

Ava DuVernay is returning to the streaming service with a five-episode limited series based on the notorious true story of The Central Park Five.

Each episode will focus on one of the five teenagers from Harlem Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Korey Wise who were wrongly convicted of raping Trisha Meili in New York’s Central Park.

The series will span the spring of 1989, when each was first questioned about the incident, to 2014, when they were exonerated and a settlement was reached with the city of New York.

DuVernay will write and direct the series. Jeff Skoll and Jonathan King from Participant Media, Oprah Winfrey through Harpo Films, and Jane Rosenthal and Berry Welsh from Tribeca Productions will serve as executive producers alongside DuVernay.

This marks DuVernay’s second project for Netflix following this year’s Oscar-nominated documentary 13TH. DuVernay is also behind the Louisiana-set TV drama Queen Sugar that recently had its second season premiere on OWN. 

On the film side, her adaptation of A Wrinkle In Time will premiere next year through Disney.

“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,” said DuVernay. “The story of the men known as 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.”

Cindy Holland, vice-president of original content at Netflix, said: “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.”

Participant Media’s King added: “It’s an honour to be partnering again with Ava, a uniquely tenacious and inspiring artist. The events of this shocking story continue to resonate today, and the way Ava has chosen to focus intimately on the five young men foregrounds the human costs of this kind of tragedy. We are looking forward to working with Netflix, Tribeca and Harpo on Participant’s first scripted episodic series.”