Making a Murderer directors Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos with Stephen Glynn, Steven Avery's lawyer.
© Jasmin Chang
“If we as a society are interested in protection, than we should be trying to get it right in justice.”
Unless you have sworn off all forms of media, chances are you’re aware of the recent popularity of the true crime genre. After The Jinx and Serial, the latest series that’s taken true crime by storm is Netflix’s Making A Murderer.
On February 25, The Stranger Than Fiction documentary series presented The Making of MAKING A MURDERER, a one-of-a-kind event hosted by DOC NYC Artistic Director Thom Powers. Powers conducted a live 90-minute interview with Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos, directors of the 10-episode Netflix documentary series MAKING A MURDERER, released in December 2015. The interview unpacked the production and editing of the ten year documentary process, and concluded with key takeaways of the series. Cinephiles had the opportunity to view selected clips from the series, and hear from the special guests of the evening: production advisor Maureen Ryan, editor Mary Manhardt, and Civil Rights lawyer Stephen Glynn.
Steven Avery of Manitowoc, Wisconsin was exonerated in 2003 for wrongful conviction after serving 18 years in prison. In an unprecedented boomerang turn of events, Avery was arrested in 2005, and in 2007, sentenced to life in prison for murder. MAKING A MURDERER documents the most controversial investigation Wisconsin has ever seen. On a grander scale, it shines a light on the cracks triggered by the rigidity of the United States justice system, reinforced by “an unwarranted certitude on the part of police officers and prosecutors and defense lawyers and judges and jurors that they’re getting it right, that they simply are right.” This comment was made by Avery’s lawyer Dean Strang in the series, and he emphasized the “tragic lack of humility of everyone who participates in our criminal justice system.” Consequently, STF’s The Making of MAKING A MURDERER unveiled a deeper examination of the United States justice system.
After a week off for the holidays and the first real snow of the season, we’ve landed squarely in 2016 – but first a brief look back. Each new year brings with it a sense of renewed hope and fresh perspective, so it seems only appropriately timed that Film Comment‘s long standing editor Gavin Smith has stepped down after 15 years at the helm and Nicolas Rapold has stepped in as interim editor of the publication.
Others spent the last couple weeks summing up the best of last year’s docu offerings. Christopher Campbell listed is favorite docs of 2015 at Nonfics, while he also posted the results of the Nonfics end of year poll which placed Joshua Oppenheimer’s THE LOOK OF SILENCE firmly at the top. Tom Roston agreed in his top 10 posted at the POV Blog. At Newsweek, Paula Mejia, Ryan Bort, Cady Drell, and Zach Schonfeld pieced together their favorites, as did the staff at Realscreen, while Peter Knegt listed his Oscar predictions at indieWIRE. Broadening the conversation a bit while giving voice to a host of films overlooked by the general populous, indieWIRE’s Anthony Kaufman and Film Comment’s Eric Hynes both wrote features on the some of the best docs of 2015 that are still looking for distribution.
The holiday season is upon us and with it comes a hail of award season Hollywood hold-offs that generally steal the thunder of non-fiction titles just making their way to theaters (here’s looking at you STAR WARS). Thus, it’s been a fairly quite week for docs, though one that deserves a bit of celebration with the Library of Congress announcing their 2015 National Film Registry titles which include eight works of non-fiction, as Daniel Walber noted at Nonfics. Shirley Clarke‘s PORTRAIT OF JASON, Thom Andersen’s EADWEARD MUYBRIDGE, ZOOPRAXOGRAPHER and Thomas Edison‘s EDISON KINETOSCOPE RECORD OF A SNEEZE (which can now be viewed here) are among this year’s additions deemed “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant”, reports Susan King for the Los Angeles Times.
There’s still a solid week and a half before the bell rings out 2015, but the best-of lists continue to roll in from all sides. The Playlist have named their Top 20 Docs of the Year, LA Weekly’s Amy Nicholson listed her Most Essential Docs of the Year, while at Nonfics, Landon Palmer gave an unpredictable rundown of her favorite music docs of 2015. Including a variety of non-fiction features in their general year end best-of lists, Sight & Sound and Film Comment, both of whom included THE LOOK OF SILENCE. Mixing things up a bit, Kevin B. Lee once again “attempted to account for the state of video essays” this year over at Fandor’s Keyframe, gathering a variety of best of lists from key video essayists and theorists, most of which link to the video pieces mentioned.