‘The Witness’ Doc: Gripping and Unpredictable

The Witness is a gripping documentary that contains surprising information about the infamous murder of a woman named Kitty Genovese in 1964. If her name rings a bell, you likely remember that the 28-year-old woman was killed outside her apartment house in Kew Gardens in Queens, New York, and that thirty-eight neighbors heard her screaming and did nothing—that Kitty Genovese was stabbed to death, alone and abandoned.

That was the story that appeared The New York Times just after the heinous crime took place. And that was the story that stuck in the national consciousness for decades.

Until, that is, The Times investigated its own reporting in 2004 and discovered that several neighbors did call the police, and that one came to her aid in her dying moments.

The Witness —which had a brief theatrical release last summer and is available on demand on Netflix, iTunes, and other electronic venues—features Bill Genovese, who was sixteen when his sister died. He joined the Marines a few years later and was severely wounded in the Vietnam War, losing both legs.

The movie follows Bill Genovese on his quest to find out the truth about what happened to his sister that horrible night. In the process, he and director and screenwriter James Solomon show a completely new side of Kitty Genovese and what transpired that night. It is a compelling, thought-provoking film.

Bill Genovese and James Soloman “throw themselves into the hunt with unflagging resolve, ” Justin Chang wrote in his L.A. Times review of the film, “turning a sober reflection on tragedy into a lively and unpredictable detective story, and evincing at every step a sense of initiative that is the very opposite of apathy.”

—Marc Leepson


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