Amanda Knox, the
original Netflix documentary about a 20-year-old American girl in Italy found
guilty and later exonerated of murdering roommate Meredith Kercher, is the
latest true-crime sensation to get a second look as directors Rod Blackhurst
and Brian McGinn let the key players involved -- Amanda Knox, co-defendant and
ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, Italian prosecutor Giuliano Mignini and Daily Mail reporter Nick Pisa -- tell
their side of the story.
“We really hope that the film is a portrait of each of these
people who are caught up in something far bigger than them,” Blackhurst tells
ET, adding that “nobody had really taken the time to understand who they were
Following Kercher’s death in 2007, Knox found herself
trapped in the middle of a media circus when she and Sollecito became the main suspects
in the case and, in 2009, were found guilty and sentenced to 26 years in
prison. In 2011, both were acquitted and freed following an appeal that ruled
there had been insufficient proof in the case. Both Knox and Sollecito were
eventually retried and found guilt again, only to have the Italian Supreme
Court in 2015 definitively exonerate both of any guilt in Kercher’s murder.
The story became tabloid fodder as soon as the investigation
started, blurring the lines between hard news and soft news. “You couldn't have
asked for better material,” Pisa says in the film. Soon Knox became known as
“Foxy Knoxy” -- a moniker Pisa lifted from Knox’s Myspace page -- with every
detail of her life subject to interpretation by the press. “Google the name ‘Amanda
Knox’ and you get 7.1 million hits,” Knox says.
In February 2011, before Knox or Sollecito had even been
acquitted, Lifetime debuted a dramatized version of the events starring Hayden Panettiere
and Marcia Gay Harden. “This legal proceeding was turned into entertainment,”
“What we saw immediately when we started working on this in
2011 -- even with the sheer number of cameras and reporters covering the story
-- was that nobody actually had an understanding of what had happened or maybe
what were the objective facts that existed,” says Blackhurst, who, alongside
McGinn, became interested in separating truth from fodder. “The things that
people had latched onto were the far more salacious, exciting and fear-inducing
“We wanted to both understand why that had happened and what
it would feel like as well for each of these people caught up inside of this,”
It was for that reason that the directors felt it was
“really worth” telling this story from the first-person perspective, with the
four personalities sitting down for an unfiltered conversation about their
account of what happened. And it was for that reason the film took nearly five
years to complete.
“While everyone else was battling over getting the news out
first, we spent a lot of time building relationships and building trust with
these people,” McGinn says. “After two and a half years of talking to people
and doing research, Amanda came to us and said she wanted to do an interview.
Then, shortly after that, after the final Supreme Court verdict in 2015, Giuliano
decided to participate as well.”
With both of them involved, McGinn knew they finally had a
film “because we had two opposing viewpoints looking at the situation, each
with extremely unique and fascinating human backstories,” he says.
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While many reporters, filmmakers and writers came before
them “looking through the lens of the narrative they already subscribed to,”
Blackhurst says that they took the time to make clear they were interested in
listening. “We want you to talk to us freely and openly.”
The result is emotional and, at times, chilling testimonials
from everyone involved, with some speaking in a way that is almost shocking
because it’s so personal. “These people have all had their lives defined by the
events of the past eight, nine years,” Blackhurst says. “They're all trapped
and caught up in these narratives that have been written and created about
them. While making the film, we found that a lot of the context had been lost
in the moment as they were presented in the media.”
“What I’m trying to convey is a regular person like me ... could be caught up in this nightmare where they’re portrayed as something
they’re not,” Knox told Good Morning
America on Thursday, before the film was released on Netflix.
“For us, the film was really trying to uncover who these
people were,” McGinn says, adding that whether it provides Knox, Sollecito or Mignini
any closure is not for the directors to say. “We’re not in their shoes… We'll
see how that plays out in the coming months.”