Netflix has added a host of new content recently, to the glee of film buffs across the UK.

One of the new, or should we say old, films that has been added is a classic – Sleepers from 1996.

The synopsis explains: “Four boys from Hell’s Kitchen enter a reformatory where a cruel guard abuses them. Years later, two of them get revenge and must stand trial.”

Sleepers is a crime thriller directed by Barry Levinson, and features an all-star cast, including Robert Ne Niro, Dustin Hoffman and Brad Pitt. It is based on a book by Lorenzo Carcaterra from 1995, with the same name.

The film begins with a narrator saying: “This is a true story about friendship that runs deeper than blood.”

Those who have seen the film will know that it features some hard-hitting scenes, and still to this day many wonder if this is actually based on truth.

Is Sleepers based on a true story?

According to the author, it is a true story based on his childhood.

But there is much debate about how much is fictitious due to lack of hard evidence.

The film is about four men who take the law into their own hands after they are subjected to horrendous things, and portrays a system gone awry.

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In a former Q&A on his website, Carcaterra answered whether or not it was a based on a true story: “There will be many who question this. First of all, names, dates and places were changed.

“Second, institutions raised questions which I have refused to answer.

“The bottom line is – it is a true story and it is my story. Those who chose to believe it have my heart. Those who chose not to believe it – that’s for them to decide.”

The book was published as non-fiction by Ballantine Books, and promptly caused controversy over its account of four teenagers who were went to a brutal reformatory and take revenge on their tormenters.

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Despite the author saying it is his truth, others have challenges many details.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus Church and School in New York, which Carcaterra attended, strongly challenged the story. Priests expressed outrage about the author’s claims.

In addition, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office said there were no records of a case like described in the book.

Carcaterra did admit in a Time magazine interview that numerous details were fictitious: “You have to change dates, names, places, people. The way they looked. You have to make them look a different way. If it happened here, you have to make it happen there.”

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But Mr Levinson, who directed the film, said his conversations with the author about the book convinced him that it was accurate.

He said: “Every time I spoke to Lorenzo, and I was asking questions about details that I was trying to use in the screenplay, he would just rattle off information.

“If he was lying, it would be an astoundingly facile lie. To me the book makes sense and is credible.”

Mr Levinson explained that it was unlikely someone would lie about his own sexual brutalisation by prison guards.

He asked: “Do you know anybody who would want to write about that if it hadn't happened to them? Do you know what I'm saying? What's the motivation for that? It just doesn't add up.”

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