Seminal documentarian Joe Berlinger has made a career out of defining and disseminating stories that are as engaging and poignant as they are obsure. Every bit as relevant to the modern resurgence of popular narrative documentries as Errol Morris or Werner Herzog, Berlinger has shown his audiences tales of small-town fratricide, corporate corruption in the Ecuadoran rainforest and the previously unseen petty relationships of one of the world’s largest bands. However, he is best known for his expose of a grevious miscarriage of justice that began 18 years ago in West Memphis, Arkansas. His 1996 film Paradise Lost, which chronicled the arrest and trail of three teenagers for the horrific murder of three young boys, murders they clearly did not commit, has become a documentary classic. Following the release last week of the three men, known for years as the West Memphis Three, Paradise Lost can now also lay claim to being one of the most effective social justice advocacy pieces ever made.
Michael Waldman sat down with Joe Berlinger to discuss the case, the upcoming Paradise Lost 3 and the legacy of this story and the films that brought it to the world. Paradise Lost 3 will be making its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival next month, Sunday, September 11.
Listen to our review of Paradise Lost from episode 269 of the Sound On Sight podcast