Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky’s documentary about the recently freed West Memphis Three, Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory, will premiere a new ending at the New York Film Festival. The festival runs from Sept. 30 to Oct. 16. Berlinger and Sinofsky, who were in Arkansas with their cameras last week when the West Memphis Three — Jason Baldwin, Jessie Misskelley Jr., and Damien Echols — were released from prison after 18 years, have been busy editing their footage into the film. The new ending, however, will not be finished in time for the film’s world premiere at the Toronto film festival next month.
It was Berlinger and Sinofsky’s award-winning 1996 documentary Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills that first brought national attention to the case of the West Memphis Three, who were convicted of murdering three 8-year-old boys in West Memphis, Ark. Since then, the case has become a cause celebre for activist celebrities like Peter Jackson, Johnny Depp, and Eddie Vedder. Berlinger and Sinofsky revisited the case in 2000′s Paradise Lost 2: Revelations.
Last week, after spending nearly two decades in prison, the West Memphis Three agreed to an Alford plea, which allowed them to walk free in exchange for admitting their guilt before the court (the plea also allows them to maintain their innocence outside of it). After capturing the celebratory moment, Berlinger and Sinofsky raced back to the editing room to update their much-anticipated film.
After making the rounds on the festival circuit, the newly revised Paradise Lost 3 may get an Oscar-qualifying run in theaters. It will then air on HBO in January.
by Chris Nashawaty