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After making the film festival rounds throughout the year, Amy Berg's documentary West of Memphis will finally arrive in select theaters next month. The new trailer features footage from the trial that led to the conviction of three teenage boys found guilty for the murder of three children. As the trailer puts it, "It took 11 hours to find them guilty. It took 18 years to expose the truth."
Written and directed by Amy Berg, co-written by Billy McMillin and produced by Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Damien Echols, West of Memphis is one of the more recent documentaries to explore the story of the West Memphis Three, a reference to the three teens (Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley) who were convicted of murdering 8-year-old boys Stevie Branch, Michael Moore and Christopher Byers in West Memphis, Arkansas in 1993 and the untold story behind the fight to bring the truth to light. Echols, Baldwin and Misskelley were released from prison last year on Alford pleas after spending 18 years and 78 days in prison, but there are still aspects of their case and the murder that remain unsolved and certainly of interest.
This trailer comes courtesy of iTunes and hints at some of the more controversial elements of the investigation, including accusations of occult beliefs, and the interrogation of Jessie Misskelley that led to a confession, which was believed to be coerced.
Pearl Jam fans will recognize the song "Tremor Christ" used in the second half of the trailer. Lead singer Eddie Vedder was among the celebrities active in advocating for the release of the WM3 for years, and Echols even co-wrote a song for the band. So it's definitely fitting that their music be used. The trailer also included an appearance by Henry Rollins another advocate for the WM3, who released an album back in 2002 called Rise Above: 24 Black Flag Songs to Benefit the West Memphis Three, which raised money to cover some of the legal funds for the WM3.
Music played a notable role in the Paradise Lost documentaries as well. The 1996 documentary Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills was the first in what would become a trilogy of documentaries that followed the investigation and trial, as well as the aftermath of the murders and how the ordeal affected the community of West Memphis in the years that followed. The documentary, which helped bring national awareness to the case, featured songs by Metallica (most prominently, "Welcome Home (Sanitarium"), and was the first movie to feature the band's music.
West of Memphis is set to feature new evidence surrounding the arrest and conviction of the three teens. The film arrives in select theaters this Christmas (12/25). Below is the poster, which depicts the sword-bearing Lady Justice holding up her scales, one side of which has three males shackled and dangling by their wrists.