The Witness

The Witness

  • BY James Solomon | IN Crime
    Premiered January 23, 2017

About the Film

The name Kitty Genovese became synonymous with bystander apathy after The New York Times reported that 38 witnesses watched her being murdered in Kew Gardens, Queens, New York – and did nothing to help. This version of events went largely unchallenged for half a century. The horrifying implications of the Times story reached across the city and the country, and would eventually impact lawmakers and lecture halls across the globe. At home, determined to prove he wasn’t like the witnesses who watched and did nothing, Kitty’s younger brother Bill Genovese, who was quite close to his big sister, volunteered to serve in Vietnam where he would lose both his legs in combat. More than 50 years later, The Witness follows Bill’s dogged search for the truth as he attempts to find out for himself what actually took place that fateful night of March 13, 1964. MORE

In the process, he unravels a myth that transformed his life, condemned a city, and defined an era. In his decade-long investigation, Bill confronts those closest to the crime, including the surviving witnesses to Kitty’s death, the prosecutor in the murder trial, and journalists Mike Wallace, Gabe Pressman, and A.M. Rosenthal, The New York Times editor who wrote the initial coverage of the murder that launched the legend.

A gripping mystery, The Witness debunks one of America’s most chilling crime stories as a brother reclaims his sister’s forgotten life from her infamous death.

The Filmmaker

Eleven years in the making, The Witness is James Solomon's directorial debut. As a screenwriter, Solomon is drawn to stories that delve into the truth behind legends. Most recently, he wrote the feature film The Conspirator, directed by Robert Redford. The legal thriller about the Lincoln assassination starred James McAvoy, Robin Wright, Kevin Kline, and Tom Wilkinson. Solomon's original screenplay received the Humanitas Prize. Previously, Solomon was a lead writer and executive producer of ESPN's critically acclaimed eight-hour mini-series, The Bronx Is Burning, starring John Turturro and Oliver Platt, which, like The Witness, is about a seminal moment in New York City history. Solomon began as a writer on several television series including Sidney Lumet's 100 Centre Street and the Emmy Award-winning The Practice. He graduated from Harvard College and was a directing fellow at the American Film Institute before assisting directors on two Oscar-nominated films: Barry Levinson's Avalon and Arne Glimcher's The Mambo Kings. Prior to working in film and television, he was a journalist based in Asia and Australia. Solomon grew up and lives in New York City. LESS

Film Credits

Directed and Produced by
James Solomon

Executive Produced by
William Genovese

Co-Produced by
Melissa Jacobson

Edited by
Gabriel Rhodes

Edited by
Russell Greene

Cinematography by
Trish Govoni

Original Music by
Nathan Halpern

Animations by
Moth Collective

Post-Production Supervisor
Steven Bennett

Archival Producer
Chris Cliadakis

Associate Producer
Maria Valva

Production Associate
Karen Wheeler

Narration Written by

William Genovese
Russell Greene
Gabriel Rhodes
James Solomon

Camera Operators
Jonathan Nelson
Chris Besecker
Mike Debbie

Sound Recordists
Mike Silvestri
Mike Gassert

First Assistant Editor
Alex Bayer

Second Assistant Editors
Hannah Buck
Erin Taylor Kennedy
Michael Peterson

2D Animation
Ignatz Johnson Higham
aniela Negrin Ochoa
Marie-Margaux Tsakiri-Scanatovits

Title Design / After Effects Artist
Scott Strange

Voice-Over Casting
ACM Talent
Billy Hopkins Casting

Voice-Over Artists
Nelson Avidon
Alison Fraser
Nadette Stasa

Kew Gardens Night Shoot

Shannon Beeby

1st Assistant Director
Jordan Tarazi

2nd Assistant Director
Jessica Robinson

Production Coordinator
Tziporah Edery

Camera Operators
Kris Kaczor
Jack Shanahan
Lucas Millard
Edwin Herrera
Karl Schroder
Yunus Shahul
Kyle Sather

Data Manager
Alex Zielinski

BTS Photographer
Danny Kim

Karl Schroder

BB Electric
Rolf Eberlein

Key Grip
Jesse Newton

Mukta Payne

Joe Del Balzo

Sound Mixers
Justin Harrison
Avi Weider

Locations Manager
Victoria Bader

Parking Coordinator
Will Wilder

Billy Hopkins and Ashley Ingram

Alex Berman

Online Editor
David Gauff

Post House Producer
Anthony Matt

Compositing/ VFX
Eugene Lenhert

Archival Image Enhancement
Lowry Digital

Additional Online Editing
Larry Schmitt

Sound Design and Re-recording Mixer
Jacques Boulanger

Audio Post-Producer
Holly Grace

Narration Record and Sound Design
Gustavo Yepes

Dialogue Editor
Adriana Lozada

Additional Mixing and Dialogue Editing
Kevin Wilson
Paul Levin

Music Consultant

Abigail Kende
Beth Amy Rosenblatt

Legal Services by
Aurélie Mathieu and Aaron Wicker,
Glushko-Samuelson Intellectual Property Clinic
Steven C. Schechter

Archival Material Courtesy of
Aram Boyajian, 1978-1979,
Cecile Starr Papers, Rare Book & Manuscript Library,
Columbia University in the City of New York CBS News
Classic Images Stock Footage Critical Past
Kensworth Cleare
Kenny Cyr
Joseph De May
Michael Farrar
The Genovese Family
Lucille Giordano
Robert Giordano
GLBT Historical Society
Syd and Beverly Greenberg
Bill Hirsch
Ilse Hirsch Metchek
Angelo Lanzone
Leonard Lopate Show – WNYC Radio
Library of Congress
Dan Meenan
Kathy Mikolasy
June Murley
NBCUniversal Archives
©1964. New York City Police Department. All rights reserved.
Used with permission of the New York City Police Department Gabe Pressman
Daniel M. Rosenthal
Bob Sparrow
Lynne Tillotson
Wazee Digital
Neil Welch
Peggy Wilburn
William J. Clinton Presidential Library & Museum

Original Score by
Nathan Halpern
Courtesy of Copticon Music (ASCAP)

Additional Music
Chris Ruggiero

"Nina and Oscar"
"Guarding The Invitations"
"Only Child"
Written by Julia Kent
Published by Kobalt Music Services America, Inc.

Written and performed by Zoe Keating
020202 Music (ASCAP) All rights reserved.

"Unsayable" & "Such Owls As You"
Written and performed by Brambles © Copyright 2012
Courtesy of Serein Records

"Lullaby for Sue"
Written by Padma Newsome
Performed by Clogs
on the album Lullaby For Sue (2003) Courtesy of Brassland

Composed by Edvard Grieg
Performed by Sandra Matthews Courtesy of Sandra Matthews

"Pachuco Boogie"
Written by Enzo Villaparedes
Performed by Cosme Courtesy of LMS Records

"The Bear and the Squirrel"
Written by Jeremy B. Turner
Published by Jankycello (ASCAP)
Worldwide rights administered by Soundrights Music (ASCAP), a division of “A” Side Music, LLC
d/b/a Modern Works Music Publishing

"God Is in the Roses"
Performed by Rosanne Cash
Courtesy of Capitol Records, LLC
under license from Universal Music Enterprises

The filmmakers are deeply grateful to the Genovese Family for their kindness, generosity, trust and friendship.
For Kitty and For John

This film was produced by The Witnesses LLC, which is solely responsible for its content.
© 2016, The Witnesses Film LLC. All rights reserved.

How does the story of the media coverage of Kitty Genovese's tragic murder still resonate today? Would you ever be compelled to revisit a murder case for one of your own family members?
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How does the story of the media coverage of Kitty Genovese's tragic murder still resonate today? Would you ever be compelled to revisit a murder case for one of your own family members?