Documentary Year in Review Countdown #1: The West Memphis 3, Subjects of the ‘Paradise Lost’ Documentary Series, Are Set Free

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We’re counting down the top documentary news of 2011 on New Year’s Eve!

Jason Baldwin, Damien Echols and Jessie Misskelley Jr. were released from prison in August after serving 18 years in prison for the 1993 murder of boys in West Memphis, Arkansas. “The West Memphis Three,” as they became known, entered a rarely used plea deal that labeled them guilty but allows them to claim innocence. Echols said they could do more to clear their names from the outside.

Filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky began raising doubt about their guilt in 1996′s Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills, and their cause was picked up by celebrities including Johnny Depp, Metallica and the Dixie Chicks’ Natalie Maines.

A second film, Paradise Lost 2: Revelations, was broadcast in 2000. The third film, Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory, was completed and screened at festivals in September, but its wider release was postponed to 2012 on the news.

Another documentary seeking the trio’s exoneration, West of Memphis, will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in 2012. It’s directed by Deliver Us from Evil‘s Amy Berg and produced by WM3 supporter Peter Jackson.

The 2011 Documentary Year in Review Countdown…

#12: Online payments
Ford Foundation Funds Webified Documentaries

#11: Off-camera confrontation
Michael Moore Sues the Weinsteins over ‘Fahrenheit 9/11′ Accounting

#10: A film by you
‘Life In A Day,’ a Documentary Culled from 80,000 Filmmakers, Premieres Online

#9: Cameraless documentary
‘Senna’ Breaks U.K. Box-Office Records

#8: Mobile device legend
Cinéma Vérité Pioneer Richard “Ricky” Leacock Dies

#7: Good karma
‘My Reincarnation’ Breaks Records on Kickstarter

#6: Seeing is beliebing
3-D Documentaries Hit Theaters

#5: Risks become real
War Documentarian Tim Hetherington (‘Restrepo’) Killed in Action

#4: No flash in the pan
Popcorn.js Brings HTML5 and Interactivity to Documentaries

#3: Mystery man
What if Banksy Wins an Oscar?

#2: Web threats
The Stop Online Privacy Act Catches the Web Off Guard

#1: Freedom fighters
The West Memphis 3, Subjects of the ‘Paradise Lost’ Documentary Series, Are Set Free

Emily Thomas
Emily Thomas
Emily Thomas is a Fall 2011 intern with POV Digital. She's interned at Esquire magazine and Vice magazine. Currently Emily is finishing her senior year at NYU, where she is double majoring in journalism and social & cultural analysis. She is also a freelance journalist and aspiring documentary filmmaker. Her top five documentaries are: 1. Buena Vista Social Club (Wim Wenders) 2. Woodstock (Michael Wadleigh) 3. Crumb (Terry Zwigoff) 4. Dont Look Back (D A Pennebaker) 5. Paris is Burning (Jennie Livingston)