Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Celebrating 17 Years of Film.Biz.Fans.
by Dana Harris
December 4, 2011 7:19 PM
6 Comments
  • |

Peter Jackson Announces a New West Memphis Three Doc, Produced by Damien Echols

Jason Baldwin, Damien Echols and Jessie Misskelley Jr. Eric Kohn

Longtime West Memphis Three supporter Peter Jackson has announced the completion of a new documentary, "West of Memphis," about the fight to prevent the trio from being executed by the state of Arkansas.

Collaborating with Jackson and his partner, Fran Walsh, were Damien Echols and his wife, Lorri Davis, as producers. The documentary was directed by Amy Berg ("Deliver Us From Evil"). The executive producer is Jackson's longtime manager, Ken Kamins, who is repping the film's sales.

As to how long the documentary was in production or how it came to be is, according to a release announcing the project, is much of the film itself.

The release opens with a statement from Echols, with a dateline of Wellington, New Zealand November 2011:

“It is our hope that this film will help educate people about how badly the justice system can fail us all – but beyond that, we want to show that in the face of such horror, in the face of resounding grief and pain, you cannot give up… you must never give up.”

Of course, there is another film -- three, in fact -- that have already been made around this case and those emotions: Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky's "Paradise Lost" franchise, which was produced in association with HBO.

The most recent, "Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory" premiered at the Toronto Film Festival with its original ending and again at the New York Film Festival with the new ending that showed the men being freed in August after taking an Alford Plea. That film is on the shortlist for the best documentary Academy Award; there's also been discussion of the possible fourth installment.

The release quotes Echols as saying Jackson and Walsh suggested making "West of Memphis" more than three years ago. ("Paradise Lost 2: Revelations" was released in 2000; "Paradise Lost 3" will premiere on HBO in January.)

“September 2008 was one of my lowest points. Judge David Burnett had refused to hear any new evidence - this included new DNA testing... as if proof of our innocence was somehow irrelevant. I thought we had come to the end of the line, that there was nowhere else to go.  It was at this point that Fran and Peter suggested that maybe there was another way of fighting back... that if the evidence was not going to be allowed to be heard in a court of law, it would be heard in another forum.  That was when they said to me and Lorri, ‘We should make a film’.” 

Jackson and Walsh worked with the WM3 for five years, financing research that would prove their innocence. (Jackson's involvement with the case was not made public until after they were freed from prison.)

Berg's film is said to contain "forensic evidence... that uncovered startling new findings pointing to the innocence of Echols, [Jason] Baldwin and [Jessie] Misskelley Jr. and includes new forensic evidence that points to other suspects that the West Memphis police chose to overlook. It was this new evidence as highlighted in the documentary that ultimately prompted the Arkansas Supreme Court to overturn previous denials of appeals and allowed for a new evidentiary hearing to proceed."

Atom Egoyan is also developing a feature based on the case, "Devil's Knot."

6 Comments

  • God Prevails. | December 5, 2011 12:40 PMReply

    I'm so very happy that they have finally been released. I have been studying them for the past 10 years or so, reviewing the evidence (which wasn't much) and getting tied up into their story, feeling almost as though I were there. These men are what drove me to become a lawyer, so that I could defend people like them, people rammed by the justice system. Anyone that still believes them guilty, needs to get their facts straight.. Head investigators for the murders even admitted their fault saying "We just wanted and NEEDED someone to blame." Terry Hobbs is the guilty one. Not Mr. Echols, Mr. Baldwin or Mr. Misskelly. Watch the documentaries, the interviews, review the evidence, and then say what you will... But before you bash innocent people because of what you THINK may be true, GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT. If they did do it, only God can judge them. BUT deep down in my heart, I know they are innocent.

  • SaraBeth | December 5, 2011 9:40 AMReply

    I'm so sick of people defending these GUILTY dirtbags. They horrifically murdered thre sweet little boys and all the Hollywood establishment wants to scream about is the ficticious "railroading" of these pieces of scum. 90% of the information being discussed as "fact" in these documentaries are outright lies! The other 10% is a twisting of the fact!
    ECHOLS IS GUILTY! BALDWIN IS GUILTY! MISSKELLY IS GUILTY!

  • WM# Truth | December 4, 2011 11:56 PMReply

    Many people believe the WM3 were guilty as charged. They were found guilty by a unanimous jury the first time. They plead guilty instead of waiting for a trial the second time.

    All of this is from court records or articles.

    Misskelley confessed three separate times, once with his lawyer present. Misskelley also told two other people about the crime before he was arrested. Baldwin told someone else he committed the crimes.

    Echols was seen in muddy clothes near the crime scene. Echols is reported to have either told or bragged about the crime to four people before he was arrested. Echols also had a history of psychiatric treatment.

    His reported actions included brutally killing a dog, starting fires at his school, threatening to kill his teachers and parents and stating he liked to drink blood. He talked about getting his girlfriend pregnant, then using the baby as a human sacrifice. He claimed to be possessed by a spirit and to converse with demons. (from exhibit 500 court documents)

    Important information from the case can be found at
    wm3truth (dot) com

  • Get_over_it | December 5, 2011 7:58 AM

    Many people believe the WM3 are innocent and after reading ALL the case & court documents have come to the most obvious conclusion.. that hearsay, gossip and a psychological report is not enough to convict people of murder and unless evidence puts them at the crime scene, there is reasonable doubt. No one wants to hear about your hate champagne or read your dull posts promoting the same irrelevant information from this case. 'Exhibit 500', 'drinking blood', 'dog skulls', baby sacrificing' 'BLAH BLAH BLAH' these are all gossip and have absolutely NOTHING to do with the murder of those poor 3 boys. Get some better arguments because these ones are old, have been proved irrelevant and are frankly making you look like an obsessive crank!

  • D. Wilson | December 5, 2011 12:20 AM

    Give it up!!!!

  • Robin Sappington | December 4, 2011 11:01 PMReply

    When and where can I see this new documentary?