New show explores true crime drama and sensationalism
f binge-watching Making A Murderer left you hooked on true crime, you may want to revisit Netflix for your next whodunnit fix. The latest offering is Amanda Knox, an original documentary directed by American filmmakers Rod Blackhurst (Here Alone) and Brian McGinn (Chef’s Table) that sheds new light on the events and circumstances that have occurred in the nine years since the brutal 2007 killing of British university student Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy, and the media circus that befell its number one suspect: her American roommate Amanda Knox.
Was Knox really a cold-blooded psychopath, or just a naive student trapped in an endless nightmare? The public was divided. But now twice convicted and twice acquitted by Italian courts, the circus surrounding Knox continues to feed fascination.
Here are some facts from the duo behind the documentary…
The intention behind the documentary was to “start a conversation about what we [the public] are more interested in: information or entertainment”, explains 35-year-old Blackhurst, who began making the film with McGinn in 2011. Featuring unprecedented access to key people involved and neverbefore-seen archival material, the small-screen movie shifts between past and present, exploring the case from the inside out, in exclusive interviews with Amanda (now 29), her former co-defendant, fellow student and ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito (now 32), Italian prosecutor Giuliano Mignini and Daily Mail reporter Nick Pisa.
“The main thing that appealed to us was trying to look past all the versions of the story that we’d heard, and I am sure everyone else in Europe had heard, to truly understand who these people were behind the headlines,” says Blackhurst.
As hunger for exciting news stories grows, 31-year-old co-director McGinn believes it’s important we examine the role we all play in the perpetuation of ‘front page-ready’ narratives. “There are so many stories now about true crime and what’s fascinating is why we are so interested in these true crime stories that are real tragedies. In this case, a woman lost her life far too young, and that kind of gets forgotten, because it’s turned into entertainment,” he continues. “It’s a really interesting question for us to ask ourselves, ‘What do we really care about at the end of the day?’”
While the filmmakers are open in their examination of the often fraught relationship between true crime tragedy, justice and entertainment, the film’s point of view is from an unbiased perspective, says Blackhurst.
“It was important for us to include the voices of those who were directly at the heart of the story - not only Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, but also Rudy Guede’s lawyer, Walter Biscotti, and Mignini. Our job is to pull all of these stories together and to paint the story from their point of view - how the years unfolded.”
While the director duo learnt plenty from the filmmaking process, McGinn reveals the one element about society and culture that really stood out is how “a narrative truly has the ability to define something”.
“People want to look for the things that support the ideal they already believe. We’re all living in these strange, post-factual democracies, where the things that we want to believe influence the way we look at things,” he explains.
“Our hope is that we can apply that, or we can take that conversation and talk about true crime stories and this intersection of justice and truth and information . But also that there’s a larger conversation to be had about all sorts of issues in the world.”
GUILTY OR NOT GUILTY: Knox was arrested for Kercher’s death in 2007. And inset, after her acquittal