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 US and abroad with such landmark documentaries as Brother’s Keeper, Crude and the Paradise Lost trilogy, which resulted in the 2011 release of the West Memphis 3 after 18 years of wrongful conviction.
Highlighting the issue of oil pollution in the Amazon rainforest, Crude won 22 human rights, environmental and film festival awards, while also sparking a First Amendment battle with oil-giant Chevron. Brother’s Keeper and Paradise Lost have influenced a generation of documentary filmmakers. Berlinger has received multiple awards from the Directors Guild of America, the National Board of Review and the Independent Spirit Awards, and seven of his film have premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. 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.
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, and Under African Skies, about the 25th Anniversary of Paul Simon’s Graceland album, and Tony Robbins: I Am Not Your Guru for Netflix.
Berlinger has directed and produced hundreds of hours of award-winning television for a wide range of networks across the cable and premium cable spectrum, including Netflix, HBO, History, CNN Films, A & E, PBS, Nat Geo, Sundance Channel, ID, Oxygen, Starz, MTV, OWN and others.
Berlinger has two projects that premiered days apart in early 2019. Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes, a 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 24th, just two days before the Sundance premiere of Berlinger’s narrative feature film on the same subject: Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile. The film chronicles the life of Bundy through the eyes of Liz Kloepfer, his longtime girlfriend. The film, which stars Zac Efron, Lily Collins, John Malkovich, Jim Parsons, Haley Joel Osment, Kaya Scodelario and Angela Sarafyan, sparked a bidding war at Sundance resulting in a reported $9 million acquisition by Netflix.
At Realscreen West, Berlinger will discuss the process behind these latest projects and how they intersected with each other from a creative and business standpoint, as well as his body of work and his take on the health of the documentary and non-fiction content genres across platforms.