Synopsis by Mark Deming
Arnold and Elaine Friedman were a seemingly typical couple living in Great Neck, NY, in the 1980s. Arnold was an outgoing and well-liked schoolteacher with an interest in electronics who also ran a private computer school out of their home. Elaine, a reserved but caring woman, helped look after the couple's three sons, Jesse, Seth, and David. All appeared to be happy in their lives until November 1987, when police raided the Friedman home after Arnold and Jesse were accused of multiple counts of child molestation. A search revealed that Arnold owned a sizable collection of child pornography, and he confessed to some of the charges placed against him; Jesse, however, firmly insisted he was innocent. As the investigation against the Friedmans went on, public opinion regarding the case became more and more heated, but not all of the testimony against Arnold and Jesse matched up, and some began to wonder just how many of the charges filed against the family had merit. Remarkably enough, in the midst of these crises which threatened to destroy the family from within, the Friedmans continued to take part in one of their favorite pastimes -- shooting home videos of their day-to-day lives, offering a fly-on-the-wall look at a family struggling (and often failing) to hold themselves together in the wake of unthinkable accusations. Filmmaker Andrew Jarecki not only documented the legal and emotional struggles of the Friedman family with his own cameras, but was given access to the family's archive of home videos, and the result was Capturing the Friedmans, a documentary which keeps its primary focus on the Friedman family while also investigating the merits or faults in the charges levied against them. Capturing the Friedmans received an enthusiastic reception in its screening at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival.
family-strife, sex-crime, child-molestation, home-movies, media-circus, sexual-abuse, clown