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Jean-Xavier de Lestrade
In 1993, a horrific triple child murder was discovered in West Memphis, Arkansas, but the reaction to it precipitated a horror of its own. This film follows up on the story of the three boys, called the West Memphis Three, who were convicted for this crime with questionable evidence. For years, the boys' fate sparked a mass movement striving to prove their innocence while the state is equally determined to avoid admitting it could have been wrong. Through the swirl of new evidence and suspects, the Three tell their own tale about enduring this injustice against the opinions of the victim's families in a debate that eventually came to an inadequate resolution.Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (email@example.com)
Todd and Dana Moore, the parents of 8 year-old victim Michael, wrote a letter to the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences asking that the film be removed from consideration. In the letter they said that the film glorifies Damien Wayne Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley. Director Joe Berlinger had in fact acknowledged during an interview with salon.com that he determined Echols was innocent after speaking with him for five minutes prior to the trial. Despite the Moore's request(or perhaps because of it) the film was nominated for Best Documentary, Features for the 84th Annual Academy Awards. It lost to Undefeated (2011). See more »
Damien Wayne Echols:
If I focused on the things I can't change, the things that have hurt me, what people have done to me, then they would have already broken me. They would have killed me inside and out. I can get up in the morning and I don't feel sorry for myself, I don't hate my life. You have a lot of people in here that all they can think about is what they don't have and how much they want out and how much they want something else. But for some reason, this situation has helped me to see more of what I do ...
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The directors said that audiences at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2011 would be the only audiences to see the film in that version. The reason is that events which took place the previous month necessitated a new ending to the film. See more »
The filmmakers return to update the case of the West Memphis Three. In 1993, three boys Steve Branch, Michael Moore, and Christopher Byers were murdered in the woods. In 1994, three older boys Damien Wayne Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley were convicted for those crimes. The first half of this movie basically recaps the first two documentaries. John Mark Byers, stepfather of Christopher Byers, makes peace with Echols and is now convinced of their innocence. In turn, Echols apologizes for accusing John. For me, the most damning is the accusation against the jury foreman Kent Arnold. There is new DNA evidence against Terry Hobbs, Steve Branch's stepfather, but it's not that convincing for me. The Three is able to win a legal victory and after their judge moved on as a State Senator, the guys finally accepted an Alford plea essentially guilty but maintaining their innocence.
Is this justice? It's hard to say. The most obvious problem for the justice system and this movie as a drama is that nobody is in prison for the boys' murders. For a documentary, that's always the limitation. The real world doesn't always have a neat happy ending. They are able to point the finger at Terry Hobbs but the second movie pointed the finger at Byers. There is nothing done against the various people who did harm against justice in this case. It is able to wrap up the odyssey of the West Memphis Three but justice for the murders may never be done.
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