Sony Classics picks up Peter Jackson and Amy Berg's 'West of Memphis'

Posted by · 3:03 pm · February 29th, 2012

I’d be curious to know how close “Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory” was to winning this year’s Best Documentary Feature prize (which ultimately went to “Undefeated”). It would have been nice to see Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky up there accepting an award for a body of work that saved a man’s life.

Some speculated that the presence of Amy Berg’s “West of Memphis,” produced by Peter Jackson, took some of the sting out of the final film’s punch. It bowed at Sundance last month with exclusive insights and interviews in the saga of the West Memphis Three. It also played the Santa Barbara fest a week later.

Sony Pictures Classics has announced today that it has acquired US rights to the film, which could yet pop up in the film awards season and extend the much-need spotlight for this miscarriage of justice.

“We are very proud to be partnering with Sony Pictures Classics on the release of ‘West of Memphis,'” Berg and Jackson said in a joint statement via press release. “We have been working with Lorri Davis, Damien Echols and his defense team for the past seven years, and during that time we came to understand that this was not just a story of a terrible injustice; it’s also a story about hope; about how two people found each other, saved each other, and loved each other through the hardest of times. This is Damien and Lorri’s film, and we are very excited to share it with the world.”

Added Davis and Echols, “Working with Fran, Peter and Amy has been the most powerful and fulfilling of experiences for us. We see this film as a source of inspiration, and it carries our heart and soul with it.”

Berg’s “Deliver Us from Evil” landed a Best Documentary feature nomination in 2006. Perhaps Sony Classics is hoping for similar results, but for now, it’s nice to see so much light being shed on the cause (which Jackson first heard about, like many celebrities, when he first saw Berlinger and Sinofsky’s groundbreaking film a few years after it aired on HBO).

No word yet on the film’s release date. Here is Drew McWeeny’s review of “West of Memphis” from Sundance.

For year-round entertainment news and awards season commentary follow @kristapley on Twitter.

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