Cinema Eye has named Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky the first recipients of their new Hell Yeah Prize, an award that celebrates “the Intersection of Great Nonfiction Filmmaking Art and Measurable Real World Impact.” Berlinger and Sinofsky are getting the award for their HBO Films Paradise Lost trilogy, which has followed for 18 years the wrongly convicted West Memphis Three, who were released from prison on August 19, 2011, in part thanks to the films. Berlinger says that to be singled out for this film is “truly inspiring.”
The award will be given on January 11 at the 5th Annual Cinema Eye Honors, a day after the screening of Paradise Lost: Purgatory, the last installment of the trilogy (which premiered at the NYFF), at the Musuem of the Moving Image. HBO will premiere the film later that month.
More about the filmmakers and the trilogy, and the trailer for Paradise Lost: Purgatory, below:
Cinema Eye co-chair Esther Robinson stated:
“We wanted to find a way to recognize those films and filmmakers that excel at the highest levels to create great art and, as a result, also happen to affect change in the real world that is measurable,..[this film] defines this award perfectly.” Co-chair AJ Schnack adds; “Joe and Bruce’s dogged determination to keep shining a light on this miscarriage of justice in Arkansas no doubt saved at least one of these young men from being put to death,..Their films inspired a global movement that refused to let the issue go away.”
About Joe Berlinger, Filmmaker
Two-time Emmy and Peabody winner Joe Berlinger has been a leading voice in nonfiction film and television for two decades. Berlinger’s films include the landmark documentaries Brother’s Keeper, Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills and Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, a film that re-defined the rockumentary genre. Crude, about oil pollution in the Amazon Rainforest, debuted at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. The film, which won 22 human rights, environmental and film festival awards, recently triggered a high-profile First Amendment battle with oil-giant Chevron. In addition to his feature documentary work, Berlinger has created many hours of television as both a producer and director, including the Emmy-winning History Channel series 10 Days That Unexpectedly Changed America and the Emmy-nominated Gray Matter. He has directed and produced five seasons of the critically acclaimed Sundance Channel series Iconoclasts and directed/executive-produced Masterclass, a new series for the Oprah Winfrey Network. His HBO productions include Addiction, Judgement Day and Virtual Corpse, and he has created series for VH1 and Court TV. His series The Wrong Man helped lead to the exoneration of Marty Tankleff, falsely imprisoned for 17 years for the killing of his parents. Berlinger’s dramatic television directorial credits include NBC’s acclaimed hit drama Homicide: Life on the Street.
About Bruce Sinofsky, Filmmaker
Award-winning filmmaker Bruce Sinofsky was born in Boston, MA in 1956 and moved to NYC in 1974 to study at NYU film school. Shortly after finishing school, he began his work with the legendary filmmakers, David and Albert Maysles. In 1991, Sinofsky and longtime documentary partner Joe Berlinger produced, directed and edited the non-fiction feature Brother’s Keeper, named 1992’s “Best Documentary” by the DGA, the New York Film Critics Circle, the National Board of Review, and the Boston Society of Film Critics. Together, Sinofsky and Berlinger went on to create many landmark films, including Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills, Where It’s At: The Rolling Stone State of the Union, and Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, an acclaimed rockumentary about the superstar group. In 2001, Sinofsky directed Good Rockin’ Tonight: The Legacy of Sun Records, which tells the definitive story of rock and roll’s most influential record label. Sinfosky has also directed many hours of television, including 2002’s Hollywood High, 10 Days That Unexpectedly Changed America, numerous episodes of Sundance Channel’s acclaimed series Iconoclasts, and a segment of HBO’s Addiction. From 2007 to 2009, Sinofsky directed San Quentin Film School, a documentary series that follows a group of inmates as they learn the basics of filmmaking.
About the Paradise Lost films and the West Memphis Three
On May 5, 1993, the bodies of three eight-year-old boys were found next to a muddy creek in the wooded Robin Hood Hills area of West Memphis, Ark. A month later, three teenagers, Jason Baldwin, Damien Echols and Jessie Misskelley, were arrested, accused and convicted of brutally raping, mutilating and killing the boys. Fraught with innuendoes of devil worship, allegations of coerced confessions and emotionally charged statements, the case was one of the most sensational in state history. The HBO films Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills (1996) and Paradise Lost 2: Revelations (2000) sparked a national debate about the innocence or guilt of the West Memphis 3. Chronicling the entire odyssey, Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory (2011) is a riveting look at American justice and a celebration of the power of cinema to affect social change.