Filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky have raced to Arkansas to attend a hearing today for the “West Memphis 3” on Friday that could result in their freedom and change the end of their third Paradise Lost film on the case.
Berlinger and Sinofsky are set to premiere their third documentary film on the West Memphis 3 at the Toronto and New York film festivals, but there may be a change in the case that would need to be added at the last minute to the film, Deadline reports.
Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley Jr. and Jason Baldwin — who have spent the past 18 years in prison on charges they brutally murdered three 8-year-old boys in 1993 — have a hearing today in Arkansas that is reportedly expected to result in their release.
The case was filled with questionable evidence based largely on the three 18-year-olds wearing dark clothes and listening to Metallica. The jury found them guilty and Echols received the death penalty while the other two received life sentences.
But Berlinger and Sinofsky followed the case to produce two HBO documentaries so far, showing what they believed was a conviction on poor evidence. They now hope the three men will be exonerated this afternoon.
Do the filmmakers think their first two documentaries are responsible for the expected freedom of the “West Memphis 3″ tomorrow?
“We don’t want to come off arrogant or like we’re patting ourselves on the back,” Berlinger said. “This outcome is due to help from a lot of people. But Damien says in Paradise Lost 3 that he literally would have been dead if not for these films; he said his appeals were exhausted, nobody was coming to his defense and there would have been no funds to investigate new evidence that helped delay delivery of his death sentence. Bruce and I feel grateful to have served as the lucky stewards of a story that just had to be told. But we also believe the films kept these guys alive. Guys like Vedder and Depp funded this case because they saw Paradise Lost and were outraged.”
And they’re happy to make a quick change to the ending of their third film.
“We always lamented the fact that we had to keep making sequels to this horrifying real-life story,” Berlinger explained. “It’s the West Memphis 3, and so stopping at three films seems right. We have just enough time to include what happens in the ending of the film, and it’s the most incredible feeling knowing that your work had an impact.”