Capturing the Friedmans


Top 20% of all time (see others with this rank)

Festival Year

2003 (click here to see all competition films from this year)


Documentary Competition

Non-Cast Credits

Andrew Jarecki, Marc Smerling, Richard Hankin, Adolfo Doring, Andrea Morricone


Family life has always been essentially a private preserve, a world of secrets and closed doors, of guarded relationships and unattractive truths that never see the light of day. Andrew Jareck's film, Capturing the Friedmans,, is such an amazing revelation because if does what the title promises: captures a family on film. It creates a portrait which is complex, ambivalent, and absolutely engrossing because of video. Home movies were limited to recording special events, but the development of home video changed all that and made this film possible.

The Friedmans are a seemingly typical, upper-middle-class Jewish family whose world is instantly transformed when the father and his youngest son are arrested and charged with shocking and horrible crimes. Caught up in hysteria and with their Great Neck community in an uproar, the family undergoes a media onslaught. But they shot the really interesting footage themselves.

Given access to the family videos, Jarecki constructs his film as an investigation, but our expectations are constantly subverted. The film inquires not just into the life of a family but into a community, a legal system, and an era. By consantly changing perspectives and keeping the audience's judgements and understandings in flux, Cpaturing the Friendmans embodies the difficulty of cpaturing the truth.


Geoffrey Gilmore (see other films reviewed by the same reviewer)

Film Takes Pace.