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Hamptons Life

Oct 10, 2011 11:03 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

What's Playing At HIFF: Three Documentaries

Oct 11, 2011 11:13 AM

Last week, Arts & Living caught up with three documentary filmmakers to discuss their projects. Of particular interest was what motivated them to make the films in the first place, as well as to find out why East End audiences should come take a look.

“Scenes of a Crime”

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irected by Grover Babcock and Blue Hadaegh, New York Premiere at HIFF.

A documentary navigating the case of Adrian Thomas, a young father in upstate New York accused of killing his 4-month-old son. Ten hours of interrogation footage is edited into a suspenseful rift with plot twists and changing conclusions. What at first seems like a film about an open-and-shut case against Mr. Thomas becomes a subtle investigation of the interrogation process itself and questions the viewer’s own assumptions of guilt and innocence.

Q: What drew you to this story?

A:

Mr. Babcock: My partner and I, when we make an independent project, we look for a subject that will keep us going for a long time. That’s the challenge. With this project, basically, it was our interest in finding out how someone might confess falsely that led us into looking into police interrogation methods. Once we walked through that door, we found something really unusual and strange that we didn’t know much about and wanted to deliver that to an audience.

Q: Why should East End audiences want to see this film?

A:

Mr. Babcock: We wanted to make what seemed so familiar, from fiction seen on television, into something new and unusual. Our goal is to always deliver to an audience what they haven’t seen before. With this film, they can learn about something they think is familiar and find out new and unusual things that may shape their sense of crime and justice in America. It’s an American story and something that happens in big and small police stations across the country every day. There’s a whole other world to police interrogation methods than they’ve ever imagined.

“Scenes of a Crime” will screen on Saturday, October 15, at 5 p.m. and Monday, October 17, at 6:45 p.m. at UA East Hampton.

“Pelotero”

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irected by Jonathan Paley, Ross Finkel and Trevor Martin; narrated by John Leguizamo; World Premiere at HIFF.

Baseball is a way of life in the Dominican Republic. Major League Baseball has wisely invested in recruiting Dominicans with a training program that has the world’s largest number of future major leaguers per capita. Each year, a handful of Dominican players, almost always from low-income families, are selected to begin their careers in the United States. That invitation comes with a signing bonus and the promise of a secure future for their families. The system, however, is flawed. A must-see for fans of baseball, “Pelotero” tells the story of two of the nation’s most talented hopefuls, and their long, rocky road toward achieving their dreams.

Q: What drew you to this story?

A: Mr. Martin: I played baseball for a long time myself, 14 years, and I have a passion for the game, as well as for international relations, particularly Latin America.

Q: Why should East End audiences want to see this film?

A: Mr. Martin: Any baseball fan should see this movie. For one, the majority of international players come from the Dominican Republic and there’s a real dearth of stories about these guys. Everybody knows about the big successes—Sammy Sosa and Big Papi [David Ortiz]—but all these other guys are playing with baseballs made out of socks, in the streets. This story has elements of corruption, taking advantage of poverty ... It’s a rags-to-riches story in the most positive sense.

“Pelotero” will screen on Saturday, October 15, at 5:15 p.m. and Sunday, October 16, at 4:30 p.m. at UA East Hampton.

“Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory”

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irected by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky.

Culling footage from “Paradise Lost” and its sequel, the new film in this HBO trilogy revisits “The West Memphis 3”—Arkansas men who, as teenagers, were charged with killing three young boys in a trial motivated more by frenzy than fact. Nearly 17 years later, the men have exhausted almost every appeal, but new forensic evidence leads to one last court date.

Q: What drew you to this story?

A: Mr. Berlinger: Way back in 1993, Sheila Nevin, head of documentaries at HBO, sent us a little newspaper clipping, a short news report, that three teenagers had been arrested for the horrendous, devil-worshipping murders of three 8-year-old boys. And one of the fascinating aspects of the journey of these three films over two decades is that what first drew us to the case was that these kids were guilty. We were interested in making a film about disaffected youth. How could these teenagers sacrifice three 8-year-olds to the devil? Little did we know how one-sided the local press was. They were fanning the flames of the devil-worshipping story. It wasn’t a story of rotten teenagers doing a devil-worshipping murder, but rather it was a story of three kids wrongfully convicted because they dressed in black, listened to Metallica music and were Goth before the term was even invented. We were going down there to explore evil, and it turned out to be the exact opposite.

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