Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

The Witness 

Wednesday, Jul 27 2016
Comments

Humans are capable of some astonishing inhumanity to one another, and they're also strangely eager to believe the worst about each other. Consider one of the most notorious tales of post-World War II apathy: the 1964 rape and murder of 28-year-old Kitty Genovese outside her Queens brownstone as 38 of her neighbors watched and did nothing. Or did they? In James D. Solomon's documentary The Witness, Kitty's younger brother Bill investigates that famous number, which was treated as gospel because it appeared in The New York Times. What Bill discovers is actually more personally horrifying, because his life choices were a reaction to the idea that 38 people did nothing while watching Kitty's murder (including his decision to enlist in the military and fight in Vietnam, where he soon lost his legs) and yet it was all an exaggeration. In addition to being a meditation on the way media falsehoods agreed upon can impact real life, The Witness is also straight-up research porn. As much time is spent with the nuts and bolts of Bill's years-long investigation into his sister's death as what it reveals — though part of what it reveals is a vivacious young queer woman whose tragic death and its aftermath reduced her memory to little more than a symbol. Fifty years after her death, Kitty is finally regaining her humanity.

Tags:

About The Author

Sherilyn Connelly

Comments


Comments are closed.

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Slideshows

  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"