Capturing the Friedman's

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Capturing the Friedman’s
Capturing the Friedman’s is directed by Andrew Jarecki. The film focuses on the 1980’s investigation and conviction of Arnold Friedman and his son Jesse Friedman on charges of child molestation. This film could certainly be put into the category of accidental excellence as Andrew Jarecki was initially interested in creating a documentary on New York City clowns and it was only through his interviews with David Friedman (the most successful of Manhattan clowns) that he stumbled upon a goldmine of a back-story. The result is a fascinating and revealing documentary about suburban family dysfunction. The Friedman’s were a middle class Jewish family living on Long Island with their three sons, Seth, Jesse and David. In 1987 Arnold, an award-winning school teacher, was snared by the police in an operation to catch pedophiles. Arnold had ordered a magazine from Denmark that included pictures of nude young boys, and was thus culpable in the eyes of the law for procuring child pornography. This “culpability” triggered an extensive police investigation in which boys who had taken computer classes with Arnold were repeatedly questioned. During these interviews several of the children accused Arnold and his teenage son Jesse of molestation, ranging from harassment to violent sexual assault. It is in relation to these police interviews that the film raises an important issue. The film reveals how police are in a position of power such that they can manufacture truth. The footage shot by the Friedman’s themselves is extraordinary and their obsession in documenting everything makes the footage so exclusive. Jarecki acquired all that footage which was mostly shot by David that makes it self-reflexive because he could be seen on the camera on and off. Some of the footage he shot is so raw that you almost feel like you are invading someone’s private life: one of the home movie clips in which we see David in his video diary crying that he...
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