This film is the third installation of the documentary series "Paradise Lost" produced and directed by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky. If you haven't heard of the story of the West Memphis 3 (WM3), let me give you a small recap. It was May 5th, 1993 when three 8 year old boys from West Memphis, Arkansas were brutally murdered, their bodies left in wooded ravine. Approximately thirty days into the case, three teenage boys, Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley were arrested and charged for the crime. They were convicted solely on the forced confession of Misskelley (who is mentally handicapped) and a theory of the teens being devil-worshiping heathens who preyed on their victims. There was no actual physical eveidence linking the WM3 to the crime. Public opinion soon gathered into a lynch-mob mentality and the case and trial turned into a witch hunt. Baldwin and Misskelley were sentenced to life and in prison, while Echols received a death sentence.
Two documentary film makers (Berlinger and Sinofsky) were intrigued by the story, and decided to document the case for an HBO special they were going to produce. Their film would bring national attention to the case and soon become the catalyst that eventually led to freedom of the West Memphis 3 in August of 2011.
The film documents and shows how the worst case of injustice was carried out by the West Memphis Police Department and the State of Arkansas on Echols, Misskelley, and Baldwin. The film also shows how the WM3 have not only proven their true innocence, but perhaps that someone closely linked to the victims had something to do with the crime. You dont necesarily had to have watched the first two installments of "Paradise Lost" as part three shows a good recap of what had transpired in the case up until now.
This film is what documentary film making is all about. It shows that good investigative journalism, along with great film making skills can and do actually have an effect in changing the course of people's lives.
I'm also including a trailer for "West of Memphis" which is going to be screened at The Sundance Film Festival next week. This film, directed by Amy Berg digs even further into the case of the WM3 and tells the unknown (behind the scenes) story about the fight to bring out the truth in the case...and clear the names of the WM3 in the eyes of the court once and for all.