You now can add “director of Oscar-nominated documentary” to the resume of Colgate alumnus Joe Berlinger.
Berlinger ’83 and Bruce Sinofsky are directors of Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory, which was among five films nominated today by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as a Best Documentary Feature.
Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory is the final film in a trilogy by Berlinger and Sinofsky that has been credited with generating international interest in the case of the “West Memphis Three.”
Currently screening on HBO, the final film ends with the August release from prison of Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley Jr., convicted in the brutal 1993 murders of three 8-year-old boys in West Memphis.
The first Paradise Lost film aired in 1996 and immediately raised doubts about the case. Over the years, celebrities such as Johnny Depp, Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder and the Dixie Chicks’ Natalie Maines joined the effort to free Echols, who was sentenced to death, and Baldwin and Misskelley, who received life prison sentences.
The nomination drew criticism today from some parents of the murder victims, who claim the films glorify the men who had been accused of the murders. Berlinger said those who made the film “fervently believe in the innocence” of the men. He said pursuing the truth is the best way to honor the three young boys.
Berlinger is featured in the upcoming issue of the Colgate Scene, which will be available next week in print and online.
Associate Editor of University Publications Aleta Mayne writes about the roles Berlinger and Dennis Riordan ’70 played in generating interest in the case of the West Memphis Three.
Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory will be screened on campus April 28. Berlinger, who has been a guest lecturer at Colgate several times, hopes to return again to discuss the film
Editor’s Note: Media reports contributed to this article.