Watch The First Trailer For “The Witness,” The Documentary About The Murder Of Kitty Genovese, Urban Apathy And “The Slippery Nature Of Truth”

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May 13, 2016 — The Gothamist has aired the first trailer for The Witness, the documentary about the aftermath of the 1964 murder of Kitty Genovese.

The Witness, directed by James Solomon, follows Bill Genovese, the younger brother of Kitty Genovese, as he tries to make sense of the murder that shocked a nation. The details of his sister’s death had become a worldwide story — one that would be studied and discussed for decades. 

The crime itself was not the story; the murderer was caught within days. The part of the story that gained traction was the idea that 38 people turned away because they “didn’t want to get involved.”

The New York Times
reported that 38 witnesses — neighbors of the 28-year old who was stabbed and raped near her own home — watched the crime and ignored the young woman’s cries for help. Bill Genovese stated, “My sister has been the symbol of bystander apathy for decades.”

Determined that he would never be someone who stood by and did not act, he enlisted for the War in Vietnam, where he lost both of his legs to a land mine.

Incapable of understanding how his sister’s neighbors could watch a brutal crime and fail to intervene, fail to call to police or fail to act in any way, Genovese set out to learn if the story he had always known could actually be the truth.

What he discovered surprised him. The story, which even The Times was now admitting had been inaccurately reported, had many discrepancies and exaggerations. There were calls to the police; someone ran downstairs to help the dying girl and held her until the ambulance arrived. There was no uniform reaction to the situation. And the idea that 38 people fully understood what was happening and refused to help did not appear to be true. 

But learning about the night of Kitty Genovese’s death was only part of Bill Genovese’s quest. He also wanted to acquire a more detailed and nuanced picture of the favorite sister who was taken from him; to regain control of her narrative which had for decades been exclusively about her death.

The brilliant documentary about Bill Genovese’s search for what really happened that night in 1964 has been highly acclaimed. The Guardian stated “The Witness is a movie about the slippery nature of truth.”

Watch the trailer here.

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