by David Koon
'WEST OF MEMPHIS'
7 p.m. Market Street Cinema. Free.
Though the films in the original "Paradise Lost" trilogy by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky are undoubtedly some of the most effective documentaries ever made, given their role in spawning the worldwide movement that eventually freed Jason Baldwin, Damien Echols and Jessie Misskelley after 18 years in prison, the new doc "West of Memphis," produced by director Peter Jackson and directed by Amy Berg, has just as many thought-provoking questions to ask about the case.
Focusing on evidence that seems to point to Terry Hobbs, the stepfather of victim Stevie Branch, the film is especially powerful given that it includes interviews with case-participants — like Mark Byers and Pam Hobbs — who were 100 percent sure of the guilt of the West Memphis Three, but who have since come to doubt that.
Like the original "Paradise Lost," "West of Memphis" is grim and unsettling stuff (one particularly gruesome scene shows turtles in a glass tank feasting on a dead pig to show how the injuries to the victims could have been caused by animal predation), but if you care at all about the WM3 case or justice in general, it's definitely a must-see. These screenings, part of an array of dates producers have scheduled in Arkansas and Tennessee well in advance of the theatrical release, are free and first-come-first-serve.
Upcoming Little Rock screenings at Market Street: Oct. 2, 3, 9, 10, 30 and Nov. 1.