Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky’s “Paradise Lost: Purgatory,” the third installment of their West Memphis Three trilogy, will be released on DVD August 14 and a collector’s edition of the complete HBO trilogy will be available November 6. “Purgatory,” which was nominated for the Best Documentary Oscar, also just received two Emmy nominations (Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking and Outstanding Directing for Nonfiction Programming).
The West Memphis Three are also the subject of Atom Egoyan’s “Devil’s Knot,” the feature currently shooting in Atlanta, based on journalist Mara Leveritt’s book chronicling the story and struggle of the gruesome murders and the false conviction of Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley Jr. in 1993. They were released in August 2011, largely because of the documentaries.
Berlinger states, “When HBO sent us down to look into this case just days after the arrests of the West Memphis Three, we had no idea we were embarking on a three-film, two-decade mission to shed light on this unimaginable miscarriage of justice.” Sinofsky adds, “It’s a once in a lifetime experience to be part of something like this and we are delighted that New Video is making the third film available on DVD in addition to putting together a very special collectors’ edition of this trilogy.”
Trailers for the “Paradise Lost” trilogy are here, along with further details on “Devil’s Knot.” More from HBO below.
The award-winning filmmakers began filming days after the teenagers’ arrests in 1993 until the moment they were finally released from prison under a plea deal. For the original Paradise Lost film, the filmmakers embedded themselves in the community for nine months prior to the start of the first trial and obtained unprecedented access to attorneys for both sides of the case and the families of both victims and suspects. They also revealed riveting courtroom footage of the teens on trial and a portrait of a community in the aftermath of a horrific crime. Four years later, the filmmakers covered the flawed appeals process in Revelations, following new leads and profiling the growing international movement to free the West Memphis Three.
Berlinger and Sinofsky began filming the conclusion to their trilogy in 2004. New developments from the case that were unavailable during the originals trials — allegations of juror misconduct, recent DNA and forensic evidence — are brought to light in the latest installment. PURGATORY features new interviews with Echols, Baldwin and Misskelley from prison, plus news coverage of the case and additional interviews with family, friends and key participants in the trials.
During their 18 years in prison, the West Memphis Three have garnered much attention from the media, celebrities including Johnny Depp, Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder and Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks, and support groups including “Arkansas Take Action” and “Free the West Memphis 3.”
With an extraordinary perspective of three films spanning nearly two decades, the Paradise Lost trilogy is a provocative examination of American justice and a celebration of the power of cinema to effect social change.
PURGATORY was nominated for a 2012 Academy Award® for Best Documentary, two Emmy® Awards: Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking and Outstanding Directing for Nonfiction Programming, and received the National Board of Review’s Best Documentary Award. The film was nominated for the 2012 Director’s Guild of America Award (DGA) for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary and received the “Most Valuable Documentary of the Year” award at Berlin’s Cinema for Peace Awards. After premiering at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival, the film was re-edited to include the dramatic release of the three men before it screened at the New York Film Festival.
The DVD includes:
• Four Bonus Scenes: Blood on the Necklace, Evidence Lost, The Prosecution’s Case and A Recantation. The scenes reveal crucial evidence lost by the police, courtroom footage and testimonies from witnesses not shown in the film.
• Press Day Panel Discussion at HBO studios with Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley Jr. They gather for the first time since their prison release and discuss life during and after prison, the support from the public and the judicial and political actions in Arkansas.
• Interview with Filmmakers: Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky reflect on their arrival in West Memphis, the making of their latest film and their reactions to the prison release.
• Filmmaker Bios