Description from TIFF 2011 catalog by Thom Powers:
Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory opens a new chap&”173;ter in an eighteen-year-old murder case that has become an iconic example of a legal witch hunt. In 1993, three teenagers were accused of killing three younger boys in West Memphis, Arkansas. The teenagers — known as the West Memphis Three — steadfastly maintained their innocence, yet they were convicted and remain in prison, one of them on death row. Filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky followed the case from its beginning and made two previous films that galvanized support for the accused. Paradise Lost 3 supplies ample background for those unfamiliar with the murders, revealing new testimonies and turnabouts that are as rivet&”173;ing as any detective story.
The first Paradise Lost chronicled how the accused teenagers — Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley Jr. — were sensationally depicted in the media as satanic cult followers. They made conve&”173;nient scapegoats for a legal establishment under pressure to deliver a guilty verdict. When HBO broadcast Paradise Lost, many viewers were troubled by the prosecution and inspired to create a legal defence group. The film attracted support from high-profile figures such as Metallica, Eddie Vedder, Johnny Depp and Natalie Maines, who have helped raise funds for a new investigation. In Paradise Lost 2, the filmmakers docu&”173;mented accumulating evidence against an alternate suspect, Mark Byers, the step&”173;father of one of the murder victims. Byers drew suspicion over his criminal record, a history with weapons and a wife who died from mysterious causes. Although Byers was never prosecuted, many viewers of Paradise Lost 2 came away convinced that he must be the real killer.
In Paradise Lost 3, old perceptions are called into question yet again. New DNA evidence points away from Byers to another, previously neglected suspect. As the case awaits a new hearing, the film forces viewers to re-examine their own prejudices and think carefully before jumping to conclusions.
About the directors:
Joe Berlinger was born in Boca Raton, Florida. He studied at Colgate University. He is the co-&”173;director, with Bruce Sinofsky, of the documentaries Brother’s Keeper (92), Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills (96), Paradise Lost 2: Revelations (00), Metallica: Some Kind of Monster (03) and Paradise Lost3: Purgatory (11).
Bruce Sinofsky was born in Boston. He is the co-director, with Joe Berlinger, of the documenta&”173;ries Brother’s Keeper (92), Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills (96), Paradise Lost 2: Revelations (00), Metallica: Some Kind of Monster (03) and Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory (11).