About

JOE BERLINGER

Emmy-winning and Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Joe Berlinger has been a leading voice in nonfiction film and television for over two decades. A pioneer in the genre of true crime documentaries, Berlinger draws attention to social justice issues in the U.S. and abroad with such landmark documentaries as BROTHER’S KEEPER, PARADISE LOST, and CRUDE. Highlighting the issue of oil pollution in the Amazon rainforest, CRUDE won twenty-two human rights, environmental, and film festival awards and triggered a high profile First Amendment battle with oil-giant Chevron, while BROTHER’S KEEPER and PARADISE LOST influenced a generation of documentary filmmakers and are routinely studied in numerous film and law schools across the country. The New York Times included BROTHER’S KEEPER in its guide to the 1000 best movies ever made, a list that represents all genres of film. WHITEY: UNITED STATES OF AMERICA V. JAMES J. BULGER, is a feature-length documentary produced by CNN Films and theatrically released by Magnolia in 2014. Berlinger’s film captures notorious crime boss Whitey Bulger’s sensational trial, using it as a springboard to explore allegations of corruption within the highest levels of law enforcement. The film was one of seven Berlinger features to have premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

In addition to social justice filmmaking, Berlinger has explored cultural icons in such documentaries as METALLICA: SOME KIND OF MONSTER, a film that redefined the rockumentary genre, and UNDER AFRICAN SKIES, about the 25th Anniversary of Paul Simon’s Graceland album. The film was nominated for three primetime Emmy awards after its 2012 Sundance Film Festival premiere, including Outstanding Nonfiction Special. In the summer of 2016, Netflix released Berlinger's TONY ROBBINS: I AM NOT YOUR GURU, a riveting vérité film that goes behind the scenes of renowned life and business strategist Tony Robbins and his mega once-a-year “Date With Destiny” seminar. Also for Netflix, Berlinger directed and produced HANK: 5 YEARS FROM THE BRINK, a dissection of the actions taken by then Secretary of Treasury Hank Paulson to stave off a global meltdown during the financial collapse of 2008. His most recent film, THE LONGEST WAVE chronicles the life of watersports legend Robby Naish as he balances the pursuit of excellence at sea with life’s complications on land. 

In 2017, Berlinger completed INTENT TO DESTROY, which pulls back the curtain on the violent history of the Armenian Genocide and legacy of Turkish suppression and denial over the past century. The film won numerous film festival awards after its Tribeca Film Festival world premiere and was broadcast on Starz. In 2018 Berlinger executive produced PARIS TO PITTSBURGH for Bloomberg Philanthropies and National Geographic, which highlights the impassioned efforts of individuals across the United States who are battling climate change despite the Trump administration’s decision to exit the Paris Climate Agreement. 

Berlinger’s multiple Emmy-winning PARADISE LOST series for HBO helped spawn a worldwide movement to free the “West Memphis Three" from wrongful murder convictions, ultimately resulting in a death sentence and two life-without-parole sentences being vacated, allowing the men to finally be released from prison on August 19, 2011 after almost two decades of incarceration. The last film in the trilogy, PARADISE LOST 3: PURGATORY was nominated for an Oscar and two primetime Emmys in 2012.

In addition to his feature documentary work, Berlinger has created hundreds of hours of television as both a producer and director, including the Emmy-winning History Channel series 10 DAYS THAT UNEXPECTEDLY CHANGED AMERICA and the Emmy-nominated GRAY MATTER. He directed and produced six seasons of the critically acclaimed Sundance Channel series ICONOCLASTS and directed/executive-produced the first two seasons of the Emmy-nominated MASTER CLASS, a series for the Oprah Winfrey Network. In 2015, the filmmaker finished directing and executive producing THE SYSTEM WITH JOE BERLINGER, an eight-part series examining systemic problems within the American justice system for Al Jazeera America. Berlinger also directed and produced JUDGMENT DAY: PRISON OR PAROLEan investigative series for Investigation Discovery that takes viewers inside the high stakes decisions made by parole boards every day. KILLING RICHARD GOSSIP, another Investigation Discovery series, tells the haunting story of a former motel manager sentenced to die for orchestrating a murder that he swears he had nothing to do with. 

In the summer of 2017 Berlinger’s eight-part docuseries for Spike TV premiered. GONE: THE FORGOTTEN WOMEN OF OHIO, about the deaths and disappearances of six young women in southern Ohio, is a tragic saga shrouded in a mystery that includes a dark underbelly of a struggling Midwest region plagued by drug and sex trafficking, and a system that seems to have failed to protect these women. In the fall of 2017 Berlinger’s four-part true crime documentary series COLD BLOODED: THE CLUTTER FAMILY MURDERS reexamined the crime chronicled in Truman Capote’s landmark book and Oscar-nominated film. 2018’s UNSPEAKABLE CRIME: THE KILLING OF JESSICA CHAMBERS, an investigative look into the brutal murder of a Mississippi teenager that Berlinger directed and executive-produced, debuted as Oxygen’s highest rated show since its true crime rebrand.

Berlinger continued his passion for using media to bring attention to the issue of wrongful conviction with his television series WRONG MAN for Starz, which took an in-depth look into six separate cases of alleged wrongful conviction over two seasons, with the series having real world impact on the cases it covered: Christopher Tapp was fully exonerated in July 2019. Curtis Flowers was released on bond in December 2019, and all charges against him were dropped in September 2020.  

In 2019, Berlinger broke new ground for himself, igniting a global conversation by becoming the first filmmaker to cover the same subject in scripted and unscripted forms simultaneouslyCONVERSATIONS WITH A KILLER: THE TED BUNDY TAPESa four-part series for Netflix, examines notorious serial killer Ted Bundy through exclusive interviews with the killer himself after being sentenced to death in Florida. The series debuted on January 24, just two days before the Sundance premiere of Berlinger’s narrative feature film EXTREMELY WICKED, SHOCKINGLY EVIL AND VILE. Both Bundy projects aired on Netflix and attracted enormous audiences around the world, with CONVERSATIONS becoming the network’s highest-rated nonfiction title of 2019, and EXTREMELY WICKED landing in the top ten of most-streamed titles in any genre in the same year.

Berlinger’s streak of social justice filmmaking continued with the Netflix docuseries JEFFREY EPSTEIN: FILTHY RICH, a victim-focused look at the sordid life of one of the world’s most vile serial pedophiles. The series reached the #1 spot on the network’s chart of most-streamed shows or movies across all genres in May of 2020. 

Berlinger’s articles and photographs have appeared in numerous publications, including the New York Times, ArtForum, Film Comment, and Aperture magazines. His book, Metallica: This Monster Lives, The Inside Story of Some Kind of Monster, was published in 2004 by St. Martin’s Press.

Berlinger’s film and television development company, Third Eye Motion Picture Company, has had a long-standing unscripted production output deal with RadicalMedia, which also represents the director for commercial and branded-content production.

Berlinger is a member of the DGA, PGA, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (ATAS), and the National Board of Review. He serves on the boards of The Bedford Playhouse and the wrongful conviction nonprofit Proclaim Justice. Berlinger is on the Advisory Boards of the Jacob Burns Film Center, The Woodstock Film Festival, and Rehabilitation Through the Arts.  

Phone

212-462-1500