When the postal service discovered child pornography from the Netherlands in a package addressed to Arnold Friedman, of Great Neck, New York, investigators were dispatched to his home where they discovered a large collection of magazines similar to the ones that had been intercepted. This was even more disturbing when it was learned that Friedman regularly had children in his home because he was a computer science teacher who gave private lessons.
Capturing the Friedmans is an HBO documentary movie directed by Andrew Jarecki, who is known for his true crime investigative documentaries. In this 2003 film, Jarecki focuses on the investigation into Arnold and Jesse Friedman on multiple child molestation charges. Jarecki never set out to make this film; in fact, he was hard at work on a film about children's birthday party entertainers in New York. At one such party he met one of the most popular clowns on the birthday party circuit, David Friedman, who went by the clown name of Silly Billy. Jarecki learned that David Friedman's father and brother had been imprisoned for child molestation in the 1980s. David gave him access to old family movies and Jarecki contacted some of the children involved, which affected him so much that he made the film about the father-son molesters and their eventual capture.
The film was widely praised and was awarded the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 2003 although many were offended by Jarecki's view of the men themselves. He admitted to being unconvinced of their guilt, and in particular believed Jesse Friedman to be innocent, presenting the documentary in an ambiguous way when it came to the younger defendant. It later emerged that he had funded Jesse's appeal; he also left out several filmed confessions that Jesse had made on prime time television shows. Still, nobody could find fault with the way in which the documentary had been made, or the way in which the sensitive subject matter was addressed and presented.
Capturing the Friedmans was highly decorated winning eighteen prizes across the world, including the New York Film Critics' Circle Award, as well as an Academy Award nomination in the Best Documentary category.