Capturing the Friedmans

Synopsis: In the late 1980's, the Friedmans - father and respected computer and music teacher Arnold Friedman, mother and housewife Elaine Friedman, and their three grown sons, David Friedman, Seth Friedman and Jesse Friedman - of Great Neck, Long Island, are seemingly your typical middle class American family. They all admit that the marriage was by no means close to being harmonious - Arnold and Elaine eventually got divorced - but the sons talk of their father, while also not being always there for them, as being a good man. This façade of respectability masks the fact that Arnold was buying and distributing child pornography. Following a sting operation to confirm this fact, the authorities began to investigate Arnold for sexual abuse of the minor-aged male students of his computer classes, which he held in the basement of the family home. Based on interviews with the students, not only was Arnold charged with and ultimately convicted of multiple counts of sodomy and sexual abuse of these bo
Director(s): Andrew Jarecki
Production: Magnolia
  Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 25 wins & 15 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
107 min

Hi. It's me.

Oh, we're not ready yet?


It's me, Jesse.

Are we there?

Good. We're there.

Well, this afternoon,

after a very lousy sketch

about yo-yoing,

I figure we'll, for lack of

anything better to do,

we'll take it towards a more

serious side right about now.

And we're going to conduct

an interview with

Arnold Friedman, my father.

I still feel like I knew

my father very well.

I don't think that just because

there were things in his life

that were private and

secret and shameful

that that means that

the father who I knew

and the things I knew about him

were in any way not real.

They're gonna put me

in the movies

They're gonna make

a big star out of me

We'll make a film about a man

that's sad and lonely

And all I got to do

is act naturally

Well, I'll bet you I'm

a-gonna be a big star

Might win an Oscar,

you can't never tell

The movies gonna

make me a big star

'Cause I can play

the part so well

Well, I hope you come

to see me in the movies

Then I know that you

will plainly see

The biggest fool that's

ever hit the big time

And all I got to do

is act naturally

Arnold liked pictures.

I mean, that's, let's face it.

He liked pictures.

Well, we're here.

This is it, the whole

family assembled.

Everybody in

Great Neck, New York.

We had three sons.

David, being the oldest

had a lot of responsibility

when he was young.

Seth was an outright rebel.

And somehow, Jesse

was just like the

the one that keeps

trying to catch up

and doesn't quite make it.

I have very good memories

of the, of my, well,

I have very good memories

of my childhood.

I had a great time growing up.

I had a great time

because of my friends.

And my father was great.

I mean, he may not have

been the best father,

but he went to

Columbia University.

And then when he graduated,

he went to the Catskills

to play in his band.

The Jazzbo Mambo

With a boogie beat

Is the newest dance

on 52nd Street

The band was called Arnito Rey

and his Orchestra.

My father's name

was Arnold Friedman.

This was in the late

40's and early '50s.

So he played Latin music.

It was very big at the time,

and so he changed

his name to Arnito Rey.

We'll do a Jazzbo Mambo

8 to the bar

I don't know.

My dad was a cool guy, you know?

He was a schoolteacher.

And I think that the other kids

liked him, and he liked kids.

But he didn't like spending

a lot of time with his wife,

so he would teach high

school during the day

and then after school, he would

come home and teach

piano lessons and later computer

lessons in the house.

And that was, of course, more

time he didn't have to spend

with his wife.

I'm not that anxious to talk

about his father,

because, you know,

we were divorced, and

But his father, he would,

I don't really want

to talk about it.

In case anybody didn't know,

I'm the father of this family.

I'm never in the movies.

Never see me in any

of the pictures,

but I really am the father.

And we're all gathered together

while David is messing up

the camera here.

Now he's taking a good movie

and zooming in and out.

When you see me on this,

you're gonna say

Okay, shut it.

He died of a surprise heart

attack about 5 years ago.

And it was very, very sad.

He was, you know,

selfless, altruistic.

But in the end, he wasn't

together with your mom?

He wasn't together

with my mother at the end.

And when did they make

the decision not to be together?

Long before he died?

Couple years before his death.

There's a lot I,

well, whatever.

There's some things I don't

want to talk about.

Well, this is private,

so if you don't,

if you're not me,

then you really shouldn't

be watching this,

because this is supposed to be

a private situation

between me and me.

This is between me now

and me in the future.

So turn it off.

Don't watch this.

This is private.

If you're the f***ing,

oh, God, the cops.

And if you're the f***ing cops,

go f*** yourselves,

because you're full of sh*t.

Back in 1984, US Customs had

seized some child pornography,

addressed from the Netherlands,

in the mail to Arnold Friedman.

Now, he never got that

piece of mail,

but his name was

forwarded on to us.

So what we would do then

would be to initiate

a correspondence with

Arnold in the hopes

that we can determine if he is

in fact willing to violate

the statute again about mailing

or receiving child pornography.

"Dear Stan, the book is

Joe, 14, and his uncle."

I think I'd like you to send me

something, sort of good faith,

and I will forward this rather

precious book to you.

"Thanks, Arnie."

See, it's very hard

to believe that

this so-called "good

marriage" was so disturbed.

He sent him these pictures,

and he sent him a note

that I remember, because

the lawyer got the note.

And then he wrote, "Enjoy."

Since he had sent the magazine,

he was always asking

for it back.

So I asked the prosecutors,

"Let's grant him his wish.

He wants his magazine back."

I dressed up as a mail carrier,

knocked on his door,

asked him if he was

Arnold Friedman.

He replied he was.

And I said, "I have

a package for you."

Sign right here."

He did.

About an hour later,

we went back.

We would give him some

time with the magazine.

I'm dressed now.

I just put a blue suit jacket

over the carrier's uniform.

And I told him, "I have a search

warrant for child pornography."

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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