Netflix has released the first teaser trailer for Selma filmmaker Ava DuVernay’s upcoming limited series When They See Us, and it is jaw-dropping in its execution and impact. The four-part true-story drama chronicles the notorious case of five teenagers of color, labeled the Central Park Five, who were convicted of a rape they did not commit. They received sentences ranging from 5 to 15 years, and spent between 6 and 13 years in prison before they were finally exonerated.
In a tweet touting the teaser trailer, DuVernay calls this a four-part film about who the millions of young people of color who are blamed, judged and accused on sight really are (hence the title change from Central Park Five). This teaser itself is absolutely stunning, and is a terrific reminder that cinematographer Bradford Young—who worked with DuVernay on Selma and also shot Arrival and Solo: A Star Wars Story—was the DP on this limited series. Just from a pure visual standpoint, this looks incredible. But visuals are nothing without character and thematic resonance, and as you can see here, everything about the execution is evoking strong emotions from the audience.
DuVernay directs and co-writes all four parts, while other writers on the limited series include Attica Locke, Robin Swicord, and Michael Starrbury.
This Central Park Five case is infamous in nature and is a true tragedy with direct ties to the world we live in today—not to put too fine a point on it, but Donald Trump took out a full page ad in all four of New York City’s major newspapers in 1989 calling for a return to the death penalty for the Central Park Five, and continued to defend his position long after they had been exonerated.
The series spans 25 years as it chronicles the entire ordeal the Central Park Five were put through, and this is a terrific teaser for what is surely one of the biggest TV events of the year. Check out the When They See Us teaser trailer below, followed by some new images.
When They See Us premieres on Netflix on May 31st and stars Michael K. Williams, Vera Farmiga, John Leguizamo, Felicity Huffman, Niecy Nash, Blair Underwood, 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, Chris Chalk, Freddy Miyares, Justin Cunningham, Ethan Herisse, Caleel Harris, Marquis Rodriguez, and Asante Blackk.