Interview with Damien Echols, subject and producer of WEST OF MEMPHIS which is apart of Salem Film Fest 2013.
In 1993, three boys were murdered in the backwoods of West Memphis, Arkansas. Three teenagers were arrested and charged with performing the crimes as part of a satanic ritual. What followed was a nearly two decade long struggle that would spark intense debate over justice, society, and what actually happened WEST OF MEMPHIS.
Damien Echols was 18 years old when he was arrested for the murders of Stevie Branch, Michael Moore, and Christopher Byers. He – along with co-defendants Jessie Misskelley and Jason Baldwin – insisted they were innocent and became known worldwide as the West Memphis Three. Echols was sentenced to death for the murders and, over the next 18 years, relentlessly opposed the conviction.
Their case caught the attention of Lorri Davis, who would eventually marry Echols, as well as Academy Award winners Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh, who became strong advocates for Echols’ release. In 2008, Davis and Walsh reached out to director Amy Berg, who would go on to direct WEST OF MEMPHIS, which captures Echols’ desperate push towards freedom, the love that supported him, and a search for justice WEST OF MEMPHIS.
SFF Online Media Editor Brian Lepire recently asked Echols – who now resides in Salem with Davis – about his experiences making the documentary from behind bars, the support he received during his time in prison, and what his life has been like since he left WEST OF MEMPHIS.
Brian Lepire is a contributing editor for Junkyard Arts, one of the sponsors of SFF2013’s showing of WEST OF MEMPHIS.