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Capturing the Friedmans (2003)



Director Andrew Jarecki’s Oscar-nominated documentary tells the story of a seemingly typical upper-middle class Jewish family from Long Island. The Friedman family’s world is changed forever when Arnold and Jesse, the father and eldest son, are accused and charged with multiple counts of child molestation.

Jarecki’s fluid blend of home video footage and more recent interviews traces the impact of the allegations on the family and the outraged community around them. Capturing The Friedmans shows the inconsistencies in the statements of police, the alleged victims and the accused, leaving the truth disturbingly blurred.

The director’s expertly woven narrative begins as police assigned to the case recount their first encounter with Arnold Friedman, who came to their attention after receiving a magazine from Europe containing indecent images of underage boys. As police searched the Friedman home they discovered the case to be bigger than they had imagined. After questioning pupils of Arnold Friedman’s after-school computer class police acted quickly.

Of the most disturbing aspects to this controversial film are the conflicting statements of the alleged victims and their families. While many of Friedman’s pupils accused Arnold and his son Jesse of rape and abuse, other students deny these incidents ever took place.

A disturbing, striking documentary, Jarecki’s use of home video footage shows the strain and tension that shattered the Friedman family throughout the case while interviews with police and local residents reveal the hysteria that gripped the small community in the wake of the scandal and its eventual trial.

production details
USA | 107 minutes | 2003

Director: Andrew Jarecki
Arnold Friedman
Elaine Friedman
Jesse Friedman
David Friedman
Seth Friedman



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