James Solomon’s revisitation of an infamous NYC murder made its debut at the New York Film Festival last Fall. Screenings followed at Palm Springs, Big Sky, Boulder, Hong Kong, Sarasota, and Atlanta, among other events.
The 1964 rape and murder of Kitty Genovese in Queens shocked New York City and the rest of the nation, not just for the horrific crimes perpetrated against the young woman, but because of reports that 38 eyewitnesses were aware of the attack taking place yet did nothing – either assuming someone else would call the authorities, or unwilling to become involved in a stranger’s plight. The case pointed out the dangers of urban apathy and spawned neighborhood watch groups to try to prevent future crimes. On a personal level, the inaction of the 38 witnesses inspired Genovese’s younger brother, Bill, to enlist in the military so he could make a difference in the world, resulting in the loss of both of his legs in combat in Vietnam. Four decades later, however, The New York Times, the same paper that reported the indifference of Genovese’s neighbors, discredited its original report. This rewriting of the legend provides the impetus for Bill to make sense of what happened to Kitty, what witnesses did or didn’t do, and the crime’s impact on his own life. Solomon crafts an engaging, sensitive exploration of myth and reality, in the process revealing a fuller sense of a woman until now known only as a victim.