Available from April 18 on StarzPlay and CANAL +, the documentary series “Confronting a Serial Killer” traces the misdeeds of the most important American serial killer. At the helm, Joe Berlinger, undisputed figure of the genre. Meet.
Confronting a Serial Killer is available on StarzPlay and CANAL +, one episode per week.
Criminal documentaries, otherwise known as true crimes, have never been so popular. Each week its new series. Joe berlinger is one of the masters of the genre. In 1996, he changed the game with Paradise Lost, a remarkable investigation into the West Memphis Three affair. It concerns the disappearance of three little boys, brutally killed in 1993. Following the tragedy, three innocent teenagers are accused and sentenced to death. Thanks to long-term work – two sequels are emerging, including an Oscar nominee – the director manages to get them out of death row.
Between a few fictions, from Blair Witch 2 to a biopic on Ted Bundy, Joe Berlinger always returns to his profession as a documentary filmmaker. In 2021, he signed or co-produced no less than three projects: Crime scene: The missing person from the Cecil Hotel, Betrayal Among Mormons: The Forger Killer and Confronting A Serial Killer. The latter is interested in the biggest serial killer of United States, Samuel Little. First accused of three murders in 2014, he finally admits to being at the origin of 93 crimes. Most of the victims, all women, have been forgotten. With his series of 5 episodes, the filmmaker follows journalist Jillian Lauren in her quest for the truth and once again sheds light on a failing legal system.
“It’s a story that has never been told and deserves to be heard, let Joe Berlinger know AlloCine. Especially in our time when the victims are breaking out of silence.“Many of the women murdered by Samuel Little were sex workers or drug addicts. Margins who did not interest the police enough.”When the body of a prostitute was found at the scene of a crime, the police closed the case with the words: ‘No human life involved’“, he explains.
Joe Berlinger became interested in the case in 2018 after reading an article in the pages of the New York Magazine. He discovers the identity of Jillian Lauren, herself a former drug addict and victim of sexual abuse. The young woman’s mission is to find the unidentified victims of Samuel Little. To do this, she communicates with him by phone and tries to reconstruct his murderous journey. From his cell, he provokes her, makes advances to her, then, tired of loneliness, lets himself be caught up in the game and distills information. A real relationship between good and evil is taking place.
Accompanied by producer Po Kutchins, the director followed the reporter for over a year. His telephone interviews are filmed, as are his numerous searches which take him to the scene of the crimes. “I was fascinated by the strength of Jillian Lauren, emphasizes Joe Berlinger. She still suffers from post-traumatic stress after these exchanges. “Conversations between Samuel Little and the journalist send viewers back to the cult film The Silence of the Lambs, except that this is the reality. “In our world, this is what would come closest to the relationship between Clarice Sterling and Hannibal Lecte.r “, launches the director.
It is about social justice.
In his career, Joe Berlinger often faces the same reproach: why give so much visibility to a serial killer? “It is often said of me that I am the pioneer of true crimes. I like the pioneer part, minus the true crimes part“He explains. For him, there are sensationalist, gritty documentaries and those made for the right reasons.”We shine a light on Samuel Little’s crimes because he got away with 93 murders. It’s about social justice, he insists. We owe it to the victims of these tragedies. It’s not just another TV story, but one of the worst times of their lives. “
For producer Po Kutchins, the work on the victims and with those who testify never stops during filming. She kept in touch with them for several years. “They are in our lives. Empathy is real“, she says.”It is even one of the main rules of our work“, adds Joe Berlinger. Samuel Little dies on December 30, 2020 in the prison ofState of Lancaster, in Los Angeles. Jillian Lauren continues her work to find the identities of around thirty still unidentified victims.
Interview by Thomas Desroches, April 5, 2021.