A documentary about three men who have been jailed for 18 years for child murder is getting a new ending for its Toronto International Film Festival premiere, thanks to a court decision on Friday that set the men free on the basis of DNA evidence.
Paradise Lost: Purgatory is the third documentary by filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky on the so-called West Memphis Three: three teens – Jason Baldwin, Damien Echols and Jessie Misskelly – from the town of West Memphis, Arkansas, who were convicted of raping and murdering three eight-year-old boys in 1993.
The new film follows Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Mills (1996) and Paradise Lost 2: Revelations (2000), aired on HBO, which brought attention to the case in which three teens, with a fondness for heavy metal music, became small-town scapegoats.
Celebrities such as such Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam, Nathalie Maines of The Dixie Chicks and actors Jack Black and Johnny Depp urged the mens' release.
Damien Echols, who was sentenced to death, said that, 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."
Said director Joe Berlinger: "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. To see our work culminate in the righting of this tragic miscarriage of justice is more than a filmmaker could ask for." Staff