Paradise Lost Trilogy
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This series of three documentaries—Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills (1996), Paradise Lost 2: Revelations (2000), and Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory (2011)—is about three teens (The West Memphis Three) who, in the early '90s, were accused of killing children in a Satanic ritual. Who knew being a Metallica fan was all it took to be accused of murder?
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This HBO documentary miniseries is about Robert Durst, American real estate heir and multiple-time accused murderer. Upon completion you may find yourself muttering in a bathroom, "What the hell did I just see?"
Capturing the Friedmans
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This 2003 HBO film has all the ingredients captivating documentaries require: ugly allegations, questionable investigations, and a clown.
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Based on Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright, this documentary delves deep into science fiction author L. Ron Hubbard's creation, Scientology. It has celebrities and tax exemption—need I say more?
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Before Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky would go on to make the previously mentioned Paradise Lost trilogy, they made Brother's Keeper. The movie shows the juxtaposition of the rural Ward brothers and the big city media when Delbart Ward was accused of mercy killing his brother William. Delbert was coerced into signing a written statement that, due to illiteracy, he was never able to read.
The Central Park Five
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Sarah Burns, daughter of documentary-filmmaker extraordinaire Ken Burns, directed this film along with David McMahon and her dad. The movie follows the Central Park jogger case and the vacated convictions of five minority juvenile males.
Kids for Cash
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What happens when two shady Pennsylvania judges accept money from the equally shady builder of for-profit juvenile detention centers? Find out in Kids for Cash.
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This French miniseries follows the trial of American writer Michael Peterson, who's accused of murdering his wife. He claims she died from falling down the stairs, hence the title; and like a fancy staircase, there are many twists.
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Cropsey, a Staten Island urban legend about an escaped psychiatric patient, might not be such a legend after all.
Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son about His Father
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Kurt Kuenne was making a movie for his murdered friend Andrew Bagby's son when it developed into one of the best, and saddest, true-crime documentaries of all time. The movie was originally intended to be shown to only family and friends.
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An accurately titled movie, Crazy Love is about the tumultuous and violent relationship between New York lawyer Burt Pugach and his girlfriend Linda Riss.
The Thin Blue Line
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One of the most critically acclaimed documentaries of all time, Errol Morris's The Thin Blue Line tells the story of Randall Dale Adams, a man who was sentenced to death for a murder he did not commit.
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In this 2006 movie, director Billy Corben explores Miami's cocaine and crime epidemic throughout the '70s and '80s. It's like a real-life version of the video game Grand Theft Auto.
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Blackfish documents the horrifc treatment and consequences of killer whales captured for entertainment. It's like Free Willy, except the exact opposite.