Filmmakers Joe Berlinger (pictured, right) and Bruce Sinofsky (pictured, left) are in Arkansas now witnessing the conclusion to their eighteen year documentary, "Paradise Lost." What an appropriate way that was worded in an HBO press release this afternoon. The complete release is included after the jump below.
The third installment in the "Paradise Lost" saga following the conviction (and now freedom) of Jason Baldwin, Damien Echols and Jessie Misskelly would have screened at next month's Toronto International Film Festival with evidence that should exonerate the West Memphis 3. A new hearing was scheduled for this December leaving "Paradise Lost: Purgatory" with a cliffhanger. Would a judge that had already ruled against them so many times finally give them another chance in the face of surprising revelations that should set them free?
The trio were not only charged with killing three young boys back in the mid-90s, but Echols (pictured, center) was on death row. In a new interview, he says plainly in the new movie that he'd be dead already were it not for the attention generated by the films dating back to the first movie in 1996. The case drew international attention and became a cause célèbre. Now, with Berlinger and Sinofsky on hand to capture today's dramatic developments in Arkansas, their trilogy has a dramatic conclusion with the three men freed today.
"Eighteen years and three films ago we started this journey to document the terrible murders of three innocent boys and the subsequent circus that followed the arrests and convictions of Baldwin, Echols and Misskelly", said Joe Berlinger in an HBO statement today. "To see our work culminate in the righting of this tragic miscarriage of justice is more than a filmmaker could ask for." Co-director Bruce Sinofsky added, in a statement, "Today, we along with HBO are humbled to be a part of this remarkable outcome."
The film will play other fests after Toronto and then air on HBO in January.
JOE BERLINGER AND BRUCE SINOFSKY IN COURT TODAY TO WITNESS THE CONCLUSION OF THEIR HBO DOCUMENTARY, PARADISE LOST
Filmmakers To Change Ending As Decision Is Handed-Down
Jason Baldwin, Damien Echols and Jessie Misskelly set free
Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory set to air on HBO January 2012
Jonesboro, Ark (August 19, 2011) – Critically acclaimed HBO Documentary "Paradise Lost" filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky were in court today to witness the stunning conclusion in which, after 18 years in prison, Jason Baldwin, Damien Echols and Jessie Misskelly, known as the West Memphis Three, were set free.
The award-winning HBO documentary series "Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills" (1996) and "Paradise Lost 2: Revelations" (2000) spawned a worldwide movement to free the West Memphis Three for wrongful murder convictions. Set to debut on HBO in January 2012, "Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory" will have its theatrical premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival with a number of prestigious festival dates to follow this Fall. This film tells the entire story from the arrests in 1993 to the growing movement, through the entire appeals process and the uncovering of new evidence, concluding with their release.
As Damien Echols notes in the film, if not for the "Paradise Lost" documentaries, “…these people would have murdered me, swept this under the rug, and I wouldn't be anything but a memory right now."
On May 5, 1993, the bodies of three eight-year-old boys were found next to a muddy creek in the wooded Robin Hood Hills area of West Memphis, Arkansas. A month later, three teenagers, Jason Baldwin, Damien Echols and Jessie Misskelly, were arrested, accused and convicted of brutally raping, mutilating and killing the boys. Fraught with innuendoes of devil worship, allegations of coerced confessions and emotionally charged statements the case was one of the most sensational in state history. The films sparked a national debate regarding the innocence or guilt of the West Memphis 3.
With the support of HBO, the filmmakers have stuck with the story over an 18 year period making these compelling films in order to continue to shed light, raise awareness and spur debate about the events that transpired at that time and in subsequent years after the convictions.
“Eighteen years and three films ago we started this journey to document the terrible murders of three innocent boys and the subsequent circus that followed the arrests and convictions of Baldwin, Echols and Misskelly”, said Director and Producer Joe Berlinger. “To see our work culminate in the righting of this tragic miscarriage of justice is more than a filmmaker could ask for. Added co-director Bruce Sinofsky: "Today, we along with HBO are humbled to be a part of this remarkable outcome.”
Premiering at the 1996 Sundance Film Festival, Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills went on to win many accolades after its HBO broadcast, including receiving Emmy and Peabody Awards, a DGA nomination and was named Best Documentary by the National Board of Review.
Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory is directed and produced by Joe Berlinger. Co-directed and produced by Bruce Sinofsky. Edited by Alyse Ardell Spiegel; Director of Photography Bob Richman and producer/second unit director Jonathan Silberberg. Featuring songs by Metallica. For HBO: supervising producer, Nancy Abraham; executive producer, Sheila Nevins.