ABOUT THE FILM: A PLEA FOR JUSTICE
PARADISE LOST 3: PURGATORY, the new installment of Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky’s HBO Documentary Films series about the notorious 1993 “West Memphis Three” child murders, chronicles the 18-year fight to prove the innocence of Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley.
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, Arkansas. 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. Following trials fraught with innuendoes of satanic worship, emotionally charged statements and allegations of coerced confessions, the defendants were convicted, despite a lack of physical evidence linking them to the crime. The HBO films PARADISE LOST: THE CHILD MURDERS AT ROBIN HOOD HILLS (1996) and PARADISE LOST 2: REVELATIONS (2000) sparked a national discussion about the innocence or guilt of the West Memphis 3.
PARADISE LOST 3: PURGATORY, produced by @radical.media resumes the examination of a horrifying crime and it’s aftershocks with Echols still on death row and Baldwin and Misskelley still serving life sentences, and follows the story all the way to it’s stunning conclusion. For nearly two decades, Berlinger and Sinofsky have followed this story with extraordinary access to all of the players on both sides of this tragedy. “Almost 20 years and three films ago, HBO’s Sheila Nevins sent us on this journey to document the terrible murders of three innocent boys and the subsequent circus that followed the arrests and convictions of Echols, Baldwin and Misskelley,” says filmmaker Joe Berlinger. From full courtroom access and jailhouse interviews to behind-the-scenes strategy meetings and intimate portraits of grief-stricken families, the PARADISE LOST series is an astonishing real-life drama that continues to provoke passionate debate.
PARADISE LOST 3: PURGATORY reveals recent DNA and other forensic evidence (unavailable at the time of the murders), as well as other troubling developments, including allegations of juror misconduct, that suggest the trio did not receive a fair trial. The film includes new interviews with Echols, Baldwin and Misskelley, who are now in their 30s, and many of the subjects of the first two documentaries, including John Mark Byers and Terry Hobbs, stepfathers of two of the victims and frequent targets of the media (and each other). “We tried to make the film a self-sufficient viewing experience, so that you don’t have to have seen the previous films to fully comprehend this complicated case,” says Berlinger. Adds Sinofsky, “We re-tell the early days of the case with footage we have never used before, so fans of the first two films will be viewing past events with a fresh perspective.” The result is an authoritative and completely new examination of the West Memphis Three case and a comprehensive portrait the American justice system at work.
Premiering at the 1996 Sundance Film Festival, PARADISE LOST: THE CHILD MURDERS AT ROBIN HOOD HILLS received Emmy® and Peabody Awards, and a DGA nomination, among other honors, and was named Best Documentary by the National Board of Review. PARADISE LOST 2: REVELATIONS was nominated for a 2000 Emmy® for Outstanding Non-Fiction Special and won numerous film festival awards. Like the first film, PARADISE LOST 3: PURGATORY was recently named Best Documentary by the National Board of Review.