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Sundance: Even if you've seen all three 'Paradise Lost' films, 'West of Memphis' casts its own dark spell

I went into West of Memphis, the new documentary, financed by Peter Jackson, about the West Memphis Three case — the gruesome 1993 child murders in Arkansas; Damien Echols, along with comrades Jessie Misskelley and Jason Baldwin, tried and convicted as a weirdo-outsider-satanist; the corruption and injustice; the years of protest; the trio’s release from prison last August — with a blend of curiosity and trepidation. I was intensely interested to see if the movie could show us something new, and maybe even revelatory, about the case. But I admit that I was more than a little skeptical about whether that could happen. READ FULL STORY

'West of Memphis' trailer: Peter Jackson's doc about the West Memphis Three -- EXCLUSIVE FIRST LOOK

A freight train’s whistle sounds. Then a voice. “Nothing ever happens in West Memphis, Arkansas.” If only that were true.

For the past seven years, director Peter Jackson and his partner Fran Walsh have quietly financed investigations to help free Jason Baldwin, Jesse Misskelley Jr., and Damien Echols — a.k.a. the West Memphis Three — who were convicted in 1994 of murdering three 8-year-old boys in West Memphis, Ark. On Jan. 20, West of Memphis, the documentary Jackson and Walsh produced about their findings, will premiere at Sundance. Until then, Jackson has provided EW with an exclusive first look at the film’s trailer.

Back in August, Baldwin, Misskelley, and Echols were released after 18 years in prison, marking the culmination of a long campaign that began with the 1996 HBO doc Paradise Lost: The Child Killings at Robin Hood Hills. Now, Jackson and Walsh’s film (which was directed by Amy Berg and whose poster was exclusively revealed here yesterday) shows why they never should have been arrested in the first place. Says Echols, who is also a producer on the film, “When Peter and Fran came onto this case, that was the first time that I had the feeling of, ‘Okay, something is finally being done. Finally someone is looking out for me. Someone is trying to move this mountain.’” READ FULL STORY

'West of Memphis' poster: Peter Jackson's doc about the West Memphis Three -- EXCLUSIVE FIRST LOOK

West-Memphis-poster

Since 2004, Peter Jackson and his wife Fran Walsh have quietly bankrolled DNA and forensic investigations to help free Jason Baldwin, Jesse Misskelley Jr., and Damien Echols — a.k.a. the West Memphis Three — who were convicted in 1994 of murdering three 8-year-old boys in West Memphis, Ark. At the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, they will premiere West of Memphis — directed by Amy Berg and produced by Jackson and Walsh, the film chronicles the findings of their seven-year investigation into the case of the West Memphis Three. And Jackson has provided EW with an exclusive first look at the film’s poster. (You can check out a full-size version of the poster below.) READ FULL STORY

Toronto: 'Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory' is a plea for justice that also lets us know (more or less) who the killer is

A little more than ten years ago, when they were finishing the second documentary in what turned out to be the Paradise Lost trilogy, directors Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky chose the title Paradise Lost: Revelations. In a way, though, they could have put that title on almost any one of the three films. For when you watch Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills (1996), or Paradise Lost: Revelations (2000), or the new chapter, Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory, which premiered this week at the Toronto Film Festival, what keeps you watching — what keeps you just about soldered to the screen — is the promise of revelation. The promise of a moment when the forensic clues (a serrated knife! a telltale hair!) finally start to fit together. When the innocence of the West Memphis Three (who were railroaded for the crime of murder) comes rushing into the light. Or when the identity of the real killer suddenly looms up before us. Every day, we see Hollywood movies that are called “thrillers,” but the addictive fascination of the Paradise Lost films is that they take us back to the feeling of shock and awe that people used to get, in a more innocent time, from Hitchcock. At key moments, they make you suck in your breath. READ FULL STORY

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