Bruce Sinofsky, who directed the West Memphis Three documentary “Paradise Lost” and its two acclaimed sequels, died this morning. The cause was complications from diabetes, according to Sinofsky’s longtime directing partner Joe Berlinger. He was 58.
“Very sad to report that my best friend and frequent collaborator Bruce died early this morning in his sleep,” Berlinger wrote in an e-mail to Indiewire today. On Twitter, Berlinger added, “Great man, sad day.”
The duo were nominated for an Academy Away in 2012 for the final chapter in the “Paradise Lost” trilogy, which culminated with the West Memphis Three’s release from prison — 15 years after they were arrested for murder in their teen years. They also received the Cinema Eye Award’s “Hell Yeah Prize” that year.
“Shame on Arkansas for not exonerating these guys,” Sinofsky said during the film’s premiere at the New York Film Festival. “Or, even shame on Arkansas if they really think they’re guilty for letting child killers out of jail. Or, shame on Arkansas for not going out and finding the person or persons who committed this crime.”
Sinofsky worked as a documentary filmmaker for nearly 30 years. His other credits with Berlinger included “Metallica: Some Kind of Monster” and “Brother’s Keeper.” Sinofsky also directed “Good Rockin’ Tonight: The Legacy of Sun Records” for PBS/American Masters, episodes of the Sundance Channel series Iconoclasts, an installment of The History Channel’s “10 Days that Unexpectedly Changed America,”
and numerous other film and television projects. Sinofsky won
multiple Emmys, a Peabody, an Independent Spirit Award and accolades
from the DGA, the Sundance Film Festival and others.
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“Bruce encouraged both of us to throw caution into the wind to start capturing what would become ‘Brother’s Keeper’ in
1991 with no money in our pockets, in the pre-video 16mm age of
documentary-making, when making a no-budget film took a little more
ingenuity to get in the can,” Berlinger said in a statement. “His unique combination of courage and
empathy made that possible, as well as everything that came after for
us. The extraordinary adventures we had on the road and the deeply
stimulating experiences we had in the editing room were life-changing
for all of us who knew him thanks to his wisdom and fervor to change the
world. Bruce’s humanity is on every frame of the films that he leaves
behind, and words can’t express how graced I feel my life has been by
having the extraordinary opportunity of being able to say we were
partners and, more importantly, best friends.”
A memorial service will be held in March.