By Joshua L. Weinstein
LOS ANGELES (TheWrap.com) – Peter Jackson’s production company, WingNut Films, announced on Sunday that it has completed a documentary about the West Memphis Three — the three men whose murder convictions in Arkansas were overturned this past August.
Amy Berg directed “West of Memphis,” and one of the documentary’s three main subjects, Damien Echols, produced the movie, along with his wife, Lorri Davis.
Jackson and his production partner, Fran Walsh, helped fund the men’s legal defense.
Jackson and Walsh became involved in 2005, when they helped to reinvigorate the then-stagnant case by funding a new investigation.
Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley Jr. were teenagers when they were arrested for the murders of Christopher Byers, Steven Branch and Michael Moore in the small town of West Memphis, Arkansas, in 1993.
Echols, Baldwin and Misskelley served 18 years and 17 days in prison for the murders.
But controversy surrounded the convictions. Supporters of the convicted men said that prosecutors failed to articulate a strong motive for the crimes. Earlier this year, efforts to overturn the convictions intensified after new evidence showed no traces of DNA from the men at the crime scene. Evidence also showed that another person may have been there.
Over the years, the three received support from celebrities including Johnny Depp, Eddie Vedder and Henry Rollins.
“Seven years ago, Fran and I began this journey with Damien and Lorri, having no idea where it would lead,” Jackson said in a written statement. “We now realize that journey is not over, that even though these men have been released from prison, they are not free. Our hope is that continuing evidence testing and further investigation will lead to the unmasking of the killer of these children and that one day Damien, Jason and Jessie will be exonerated.”
The story of Echols, Baldwin and Misskelley already has been the subject of several documentaries. Filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky made the 1996 documentary “Paradise Lost” and a 2000 sequel, “Paradise Lost 2: Revelations.”
Their third film, “Paradise Lost: Purgatory” is scheduled to be released in January.
Canadian director Atom Egoyan plans to start shooting a movie based on the men in early spring 2012.