The filmmakers quickly tie the legend to the 1987 disappearance of Jennifer Schweiger, a 13-year old with Down syndrome -- and to the eventual arrest, trial and conviction of Andre Rand, a former employee of Staten Island's infamous Willowbrook Mental Institution. Using archival footage, photos and newspaper clips mixed with interviews of former police detectives who worked the Schweiger case and a slew of other cases of missing children, and with commentaries by local people who worked for years to find the bodies of Jennifer and the others, Zeman and Brancaccio create and investigate the fascinating connection between urban legend and true life cold case crimes.
Cast Of Characters
Schweiger's mom appears in archival footage and recent interviews, as does Donna Cutugno, the woman who organized the volunteers who searched for Jennifer, and eventually found her body. We meet the family of Holly Ann Hughes, another girl who disappeared but has yet to be found. Newsman Geraldo Rivera, who broke the scandalous story of Willowbrook's mistreatment of patients, and other journalists appear in archival footage. The two lead detectives comment. And, Andre Rand, convicted of murdering Jennifer and, more recently, Holly Ann Hughes, appears archival perp walks. But, after extensive correspondence with the filmmakers and agreeing to an on camera interview for the film, he suddenly changed his mind and refused to meet with Zeman and Brancaccio.
Theme and Style
Cropsey isn't an issue-oriented documentary, but it does provoke consideration of how history translates into myth, and how myth influences history. It's also a very good commentary about the evolution of New York's Staten Island and the role the locale has traditionally played in the city's ethos.
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- Title: Cropsey
- Directors: Barbara Brancaccio and Joshua Zeman
- Release Date: June 4, 2010 (in New York, with other cities to follow)
- Running Time: 84 mins.
- Parents Advisory: Advisory for content
- Location: New York, Staten Island
- Language: English
- Company: Antidote Films, Cinema Purgatorio