Still from West of Memphis film.

West of Memphis


West of Memphis

Sundance Film Festival

Director: Amy Berg

If you’ve watched Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky’s Paradise Lost series revolving around the West Memphis 3 for the past 15 years (Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory just aired on HBO on January 12th), you already know the atrocities and prejudices that were involved in the triple homicide trial.

For those who haven’t seen the three films (change that fact), director Amy Berg and producer Peter Jackson have decided to deliver their summarized interpretation and unbelievable discoveries of the events with West of Memphis.

In 1993, three young boys were found viciously beaten and murdered in the small town of West Memphis, Arkansas. Less than a year later, Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley, Jr. and Jason Baldwin were convicted of the crime, even though the prosecutions’ evidence was feeble and speculative. Almost 18 years later, the three wrongfully convicted men still claim their innocence and fight to overturn the injustices that have destroyed the larger part of their lives, and with the financial backing of Jackson to possibly uncover new evidence, they may have their day to reveal the truth.

While Berlinger and Sinofsky balanced their films’ focus on the case as well as the sensationalism of the events (think of the Michael Jackson or O.J. Simpson trials), Berg focuses solely on the investigation and the potentially undiscovered evidence that may be lurking in the shadows, which brings a fresh perspective on the case.

At times, it does feel as though Berg is stepping on Berlinger and Sinofsky’s toes, since the two have been dancing with this case since the beginning (especially when identical footage is utilized), but the insider’s look at the investigative team’s construction of new theories and dramatizations does boggle the mind and reminds viewers that everyone involved are only there to restore the definition of justice and rescue three innocent men.

Time: 5:30 pm Date: 1/24/2012 Venue: Screening Room, Sundance Resort
Time: 6:00 pm Date: 1/27/2012 Venue: Yarrow Hotel Theatre