'The Ted Bundy Tapes' and 'Shockingly Evil': Why Joe Berlinger doubled down on the serial killer - LA Times

Now, with both Bundy projects unveiled simultaneously — Netflix announced its acquisition of “Extremely Wicked” following the film’s Sundance premiere and the trending success of its “Ted Bundy Tapes” launch — Berlinger has found himself in the controversial business of Bundy. And audiences are wrestling with their own fascination with the man who confessed to murdering and raping as many as 30 women and girls across seven states in the 1970s.

The question of the hour: Why is Joe Berlinger so obsessed with Ted Bundy — and why can't audiences look away?


Sundance: Netflix Nabbing Zac Efron Ted Bundy Drama 'Extremely Wicked' for $9M - The Hollywood Reporter

Though Sundance officially wrapped Sunday, the dealmaking continues: Netflix is closing in on a deal for U.S. and some international rights to the drama Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, starring Zac Efron as notorious serial killer Ted Bundy. A source pegged the deal at a staggering $9 million.

Directed by Joe Berlinger — the Oscar-nominated helmer behind Paradise Lost, who excels in the true-crime genre — the film chronicles the crimes of Ted Bundy from the perspective of his longtime girlfriend, Elizabeth Kloepfer, who refused to believe the truth about him for years. Lily Collins plays Kloepfer, while Haley Joel Osment, Kaya Scodelario, John Malkovich, Jim Parsons and Angela Sarafyan round out the cast.

Extremely Wicked sparked a late-fest bidding war that also involved STX and Lionsgate. Netflix will give the pic an awards-season theatrical run in the fall.


Joe Berlinger's 'Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile' premieres at Sundance to rave reviews:

In my judgment, “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile” is an honestly unsettling and authentic inquiry into the question of who Ted Bundy was, how he operated, what his capture and trial and ongoing infamy has meant, and what, if anything, his existence tells us about our individual relationship to toxic evil. That said, his story is also freaky as hell, in a jaw-dropping you-can’t-make-this-stuff-up way. It now plays as one of those only-in-the-’70s sagas, like the Patty Hearst affair, where the nation was spellbound by a criminal spectacle that seemed to say something about how the very essence of our communality was falling apart. - Variety

Not to say that Zac Efron was born to play Ted Bundy, but the former High School Musical teen heartthrob is more than a bit convincing as the seductive, prolific and diabolical serial killer of young women in Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile. Venerated documentary stalwart Joe Berlinger, who just happens to also have a four-part Netflix docuseries on the same subject, Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes, currently on view, does a cogent, propulsive job putting the appallingly prolific murderer’s story onscreen, and such material customarily finds an interested public. - The Hollywood Reporter

By interspersing the fictionalized account with archival footage to accentuate the clues that point to what Liz refuses to accept, Berlinger counteracts some of the moments that may seem over-the-top or simply too unfeasible to be real. No killer before Bundy or since managed to get away with nearly as much; the film’s moments of madness that seem the most implausible are, in the greatest tradition of truth being stranger than fiction, the ones that actually occurred. - The Wrap

That sense of whiplash? It’s a feature, not a bug in Berlinger’s film, which walks the extremely fine line between introducing Bundy to the audience through the eyes of a woman who loved him while never shying away from the gravity of his crimes. Despite being primarily told through the perspective of Collins’ Elizabeth Kloepfer (a very real person, as so many weird things in the film are very much real), “Extremely Vile” isn’t a glossy or loving look at Bundy. More sad than salacious, it’s the rare film about a criminal that offers human details without humanizing a man who so many agree was a monster. - IndieWire

Netflix Delves into the Mind of a Monster in “Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes” - Bloody Disgusting

Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes brings the infamously twisted mind of serial killer Ted Bundy into the light for the very first time. The chilling series will invade our psyche with exclusive interviews that come from the “Jack the Ripper of the United States,” himself. This unique and gripping doc series focuses on the man whose personality, good looks and social graces defied the serial-killer stereotype, allowing him to hide in plain sight as he committed the brutal sex-crime slayings of more than 30 women before being caught in 1978. While on trial, Bundy received extraordinary adoration from American women, which made his gruesome crimes doubly haunting, even in an era of anything-goes mayhem.


Sundance 2019: Ocasio-Cortez doc and Ted Bundy biopic headline festival - The Guardian

One of the most buzzed about films to launch in January is the Ted Bundy drama Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile from the Emmy-winning documentary film-maker Joe Berlinger. It stars Zac Efron as the killer but will be told through the viewpoint of his girlfriend Liz, played by Lily Collins.

“It doesn’t really glorify Ted Bundy,” Efron said earlier this year. “He wasn’t a person to be glorified. It simply tells a story and sort of how the world was able to be charmed over by this guy who was notoriously evil and the vexing position that so many people were put in, the world was put in. It was fun to go and experiment in that realm of reality.”


Whitey Bulger Dies: Filmmaker Joe Berlinger Responds to Passing of His Notorious ‘Whitey’ Subject - Indiewire

“Making the Bulger film was one of the most intense experiences of my career because at times it was hard to separate the good guys from the bad, and the truth from folklore and government corruption,” Berlinger told IndieWire. “I hope that the real story of how Bulger was enabled by the government to kill with impunity won’t be buried along with him.”

“Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger” also focused on family members of Bulger’s many victims, an assorted group of Bostonians galvanized by their tragic connections to the man who, at his peak, ruled the city’s Winter Hill Gang.

“Hopefully, Bulger’s death will bring some closure to his many victims and their families who never got the true justice they deserved,” Berlinger said.


'Unspeakable Crime: The Killing Of Jessica Chambers' Highlights Both Sides Of Torn Community, Director Says - Newsweek

Unspeakable Crime: The Killing of Jessica Chambers, will premiere on Oxygen Saturday at 7 p.m. ET/PT and will focus on all sides of the confusing crime, from online commentators to the small town’s opinions. Tellis was tried for Chambers' death last October, though it was declared a mistrial when the jury could not reach a unanimous verdict, according to WMC Action News. His retrial begins September 24.

The show’s director, Joe Berlinger, sees the timing of the series release as a unique angle to the developing story. He told Newsweek the case was so alluring to the general public because of Chambers’ image as an ideal teen, one who was rebellious, yet relatable.

“In many ways, Jessica was like most teenagers, strong-willed and rebellious. She was finding her way and learning to walk her own path and I think people can relate to that side of young adulthood,” he said. “People wanted to know how this could have happened and who could have committed such a personal crime. I think that, plus the trial of the accused killer, Quinton Tellis, playing out in real-time really made this series unique.”

Berlinger aimed to connect with families on both sides of the tragedy, as well as local law enforcement and reporters who broke the story. “We built trust and had incredible access to the families, the media, law enforcement and the investigation itself,” he said. “Building that trust and embedding ourselves in the community is always key to the storytelling in documentaries that I make.”


Nat Geo, RadicalMedia to tackle climate change in “Paris to Pittsburgh” - Realscreen

National Geographic Documentary Films will present the television broadcast premiere of climate change documentary Paris to Pittsburghfrom Emmy Award winner Sidney Beaumont and Emmy-nominated filmmaker Michael Bonfiglio. 

Produced by RadicalMedia in partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies, the film will chronicle the impassioned efforts of the individuals leading the charge in the battle against climate change. Set against the national debate over America’s energy future — and the Trump administration’s decision to exit the Paris Climate Agreement — the film explores the social and economic impacts of climate change-fueled disasters throughout the U.S. and the ways in which Americans are responding.


Filmmaker challenges prosecutor, says Brusic ignoring facts to preserve conviction – Yakima Herald

Now, after two decades of desperately writing letters to lawyers and legal groups in search of finding someone willing to review his case, Salas has found some hope in award-winning filmmaker Joe Berlinger — known for his documentaries on wrongful convictions — and an Everett defense attorney — Laura Shaver — willing to review his case pro-bono.

After reading a letter from Salas, Berlinger launched a probe into his case questioning the integrity of the investigation. The filmmaker’s findings are highlighted in the documentary “Wrong Man” released earlier this month on the STARZ television network. In the documentary, investigators discovered that key evidence was possibly lost and an informant said he lied during the trial.

“My personal belief is Salas is innocent,” Berlinger said in a recent telephone interview. “This was a flimsy case. If I was in the prosecutor’s office ... I’d take a hard look at this and demand a new trial for this guy.” 


Variety - Joe Berlinger, Keshet Studios and CIR Team for Cold Case Series ‘Unmasking Murder’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Documentary filmmaker Joe Berlinger has partnered with Keshet Studios and the Center for Investigative Reporting on a true-crime series devoted to cold murder cases tied to civil rights offenses.

“Unmasking Murder” is being shopped to TV and digital buyers as an eight-part documentary series following investigators as they dig in to longtime cold cases and a few contemporary homicides. The series would follow a handful of investigations per season, focusing on the legwork and day-to-day work of CIR investigative reporters. ... 

“The hook for me for this show was being able to observe and follow these veteran reporters who have done so much amazing work in this space,” Berlinger tells Variety. “We follow them doing their thing as a way of uncovering the truth.”

Based in California’s Bay Area, CIR is a nonprofit investigative journalism organization that has pursued aspects of the cases under consideration for “Unmasking Murder” for years. The organization works with a diverse team of reporters gathered from around the country.

“We’re starting from an amazing place because we’ve already got our hands on exclusive evidence no one has ever seen before. We have a lot of new leads and new evidence that the way these cases have been portrayed is inaccurate,” said Amanda Pike, director and executive producer of CIR’s documentary film unit.