West of Memphis Directed by Amy Berg
Featuring: Jessie Misskelley, Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, Lorri Davis, Terry Branch, Eddie Vedder, Peter Jackson Sony Pictures Classics
Rated R | 147 Minutes
Release Date: March 8, 2013
Directed by Amy Berg, West of Memphis is a documentary about the West Memphis Three – Jessie Misskelley, Damien Echols, and Jason Baldwin – three teenagers who were arrested in 1994 for the murders of three 8-year old children: Christopher Byers, Steven Branch, and Michael Moore.
The West Memphis Three were tried and convicted and remained in prison for more than 18 years. Berg’s film (produced by Fran Walsh and Peter Jackson) focuses on Terry Hobbs, stepfather of Stevie Branch, one of the victims of the 1993 crime, as a potential suspect due to newfound DNA evidence linking him to the crime.
West of Memphis is another miscarriage-of-justice documentary, similar to The Central Park Five by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, and David McMahon. The film chronicles the history of the imprisoned men all the way up to their eventual release through interviews conducted with lawyers, judges, journalists, family members, witnesses, and the West Memphis Three themselves. There are also interviews with Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, and other WM3 supporters like Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder who have been following the case for two decades.
Back in 2011 it was revealed that Peter Jackson, director of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, King Kong, and the upcoming Hobbit trilogy, was helping to finance investigations and forensic testing to prove the innocence of Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley, three men who were convicted of the murders of three young boys and came to be known as the West Memphis Three.
The trio spent nearly twenty years in prison for the crime before finally being released after DNA tests that couldn’t be performed back then showed without a doubt that their conviction was very wrong, and that the real killer could still be out there walking around right now.
Now comes a new trailer for the documentary produced by Jackson, his partner Fran Walsh, and director Amy Berg, titled West of Memphis. It’s the second trailer released; the first came back in January.
Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory Coming to DVD
Directed by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky
Starring Jessie Misskelley, Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, Stevie Branch, Christopher Byers, Michael Moore, Lorri Davis, Mark Byers, Terry Hobbs, Burk Sauls, Dale Griffis, Natalie Maines, Joe Berlinger, Bruce Sinofsky HBO
Aired: January 12, 2012
The new documentary, Paradise Lost: Purgatory, third in the Paradise Lost series, attains a sense of closure in the case of the West Memphis Three. Recalling and reprising events from the previous two documentaries, filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky also follow the developments of the preceding ten years, leading up to the release of Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley in 2011.
Being a long-time believer of the innocence of, and a supporter of, the West Memphis Three, and this now being the year of 2012, I still find it difficult to believe that the convicted men are now free. I was always hopeful they would one day see freedom and liberty, but had a lingering, deep, dark fear that it would never be in my lifetime.
Peter Jackson‘s Wingnut Films have released the trailer for their forthcoming documentary focusing on the long-running case of the West Memphis Three. Titled West Of Memphis, the film follows the case from its beginnings in 1993, through to the modern era, exposing the problems and questions associated with the initial police work and the trials, the long 18 years the accused spent in prison, and questions who the real murderer may have been.
You can view the trailer at the bottom of this post.
Just a few days ago, filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky were on hand to film a new ending for their hit HBO documentary series, Paradise Lost. The moment was was when the West Memphis Three“”who had been imprisoned for almost two decades for the murders of three young boy scouts””were set free after DNA testing that didn’t exist when they were convicted proved that none of them were involved.
Some rather prestigious celebrity names were very supportive of the trio, Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley, and their release, doing everything in their power to see justice done. They include Johnny Depp, Eddie Vedder, Henry Rollins, and Natalie Maines, as well as Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit director Peter Jackson and his partner, Fran Walsh.