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PARADISE LOST 3: PURGATORY

In 1994 three Arkansas teenagers were convicted for murdering three eight year old boys – on the strength of an implausible confession and ‘expert’ testimony that characterised them as Satanists. Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills, the film about the case made by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, alerted the world (including NZIFF audiences in 1996) and proved the founding document of an international movement to free the ‘West Memphis Three’. (A second PL film fingered an alternative suspect and screened here at the Incredibly Strange Film Festival in 2001.)

For 18 years the West Memphis judge who oversaw the initial trial denied successive retrial bids. Then suddenly last August, facing formidable legal expertise funded by West Memphis Three supporters, the court caved, sort of: the three were released without retrial but had to admit culpability whilst proclaiming their innocence. Produced for HBO broadcast but amply deserving this big screen showcase, Berlinger and Sinofsky’s third film vividly recaps the details and the key players in an increasingly well-known story. Most tellingly it gazes intently into the faces of the probable killer and authorities long bent on treating the case as closed.

“The only films to help rescue warm bodies from death row beside s Errol Morris’s The Thin Blue Line, the Paradise Lost franchise is more than just cinema… Fifteen years ago, one could have (and some did) sniffed at two young filmmakers exploiting others’ misfortune for fame’s sake, but history has made Sinofsky and Berlinger genuine heroes.” — Michael Atkinson, Village Voice.

“Destined to rank as one of the major achievements in
American documentary.” — John Anderson, Variety

 


USA | 2011 | 121 minutes
Directors: Joe Berlinger, Bruce Sinofsky
Producers: Joe Berlinger, Jonathan
Silberberg
Photography: Bob Richman
Editor: Alyse Ardell Spiegel
Music: Wendy Blackstone, Metallica
With: Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, Jessie Misskelley, John Mark Byers, Terry Hobbs

HDCam

Festivals: Toronto, New York 2011

Nominated, Best Documentary, Academy Awards 2012

Censors rating: R13 content may disturb

CLICK HERE to visit the official website