Winner 1996

Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills

Home Box Office, Creative Thinking International, Ltd.

In 1993, the mutilated bodies of three eight-year-old boys were discovered in a shallow creek along Interstate 40 in West Memphis, Arkansas. An outraged and horrified community demanded justice. One month later, the police delivered: three local teenagers were arrested and accused of sacrificing the boys as part of a Satanic ritual. Yet, as co-producers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky reveal in this brilliant cinema verite film for Home Box Office, things may not be as simple as they might appear. Through painstaking background research and reporting, unprecedented access to relatives and friends of both the victims and the defendants, the extensive coverage of the trial and its aftermath, the film ultimately raises many more questions than it answers. It calls into question many of the false assumptions and rushed conclusions made about the workings of our criminal justice system, the attitudes and beliefs of our teenagers, and the mission and motives of our modern media. For providing an uncompromising and graphic examination of a brutal crime, which forces us to take a hard look into the mirror as individuals and members of families and society at large, a Peabody to Creative Thinking International, Ltd., and Home Box Office for Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills.