by Robert Bell
'CAMERAS IN THE COURTROOM: THE WEST MEMPHIS THREE CASE'
7 p.m. Wednesday, Argenta Community Theater. Free.
6 p.m. Thursday, Clinton Presidential Library. Free.
To call "Paradise Lost" one of the most important documentary films of the last 20 years is no overstatement. Indeed, without the film, it's difficult to imagine that the case of three West Memphis teen-agers who were railroaded and wrongfully convicted for the horrific murders of three 8-year-old boys would've turned out the way it did — with their eventual release last summer after 18 years behind bars.
The HBO film, by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, includes a wealth of footage from the two trials of the three — a rarity in the American judicial system — that helped to spark widespread interest about the case and foster the grassroots effort to free the young men.
The same could be said of journalist and Arkansas Times contributing editor Mara Leveritt's tireless work on behalf of the West Memphis Three, including her book about the case, "Devil's Knot," which is the basis for a film to be released soon.
In conjunction with Leveritt's recent cover story, "Cameras in Court," the Times is co-sponsoring two events this week with the Clinton School of Public Service and the Little Rock Film Festival: A Wednesday screening of "Paradise Lost," with Times editor Lindsey Millar leading a post-screening discussion with Leveritt and Jason Baldwin, one of the West Memphis Three wrongly imprisoned for 18 years.
On Thursday, Millar will moderate a discussion on the argument for courts of law allowing video recording with Leveritt and Baldwin at the Clinton Presidential Library.
Both events are free, but require RSVPs. At press time, the "Paradise Lost" screening had a wait list. RSVP here.