Netflix has shared the full-length trailer for filmmaker Kitty Green’s Casting JonBenet, a sly and stylized exploration of the world’s most sensational child-murder case. The still unsolved death of six-year-old American beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey has inspired years of media speculation and public fascination, and in Green’s film, audiences are presented with a documentary hybrid examining the macabre legacy of this tiny starlet.
Over 15 months, the filmmakers traveled to the Ramseys’ Colorado hometown to elicit responses, reflections and even performances from the local community. In doing so, Casting JonBenet examines how this crime and its resulting mythologies have shaped the attitudes and behavior of successive generations of parents and children.
Produced by Green (Ukraine is Not a Brothel; and The Face of Ukraine: Casting Oksana Baiul, which premiered at Sundance in 2015 where it was awarded the short film non-fiction jury prize), Scott Macaulay (Raising Victor Vargas; Gummo) and James Schamus (Brokeback Mountain; The Ice Storm), the film was financed by Meridian Entertainment through its production deal with Schamus’s Symbolic Exchange, with additional support from Screen Australia, Film Victoria, the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program, Cinereach, Rooftop Films and Garbo NYC. Casting JonBenet is a Forensic Films/Matricide Pictures/Symbolic Exchange production.
Casting JonBenet is unlike any other documentary. It’s not your standard true-crime thriller that breaks down the events. Nor does it focus on the objective details that make up the 20 year old case. Instead, it holds up a mirror to the pop culture aspects that have surrounded the case, and looks at why the public is so endlessly fascinated with the death of this young girl. It is a movie that goes through the ‘looking glass’.
During her time spent in Ramsey’s hometown of Boulder, Green was able to audition various local actors to portray Ramsey and her family, having them reenact certain events in a dramatic retelling of what happened in the case. In turn, this reflects on each individual’s own interpretation of the crime. The end result is endlessly fascinating, and it creates a dark kaleidoscope of blurring fact and mesmerizing fiction. And it shows off just how much this case still resonates with everyone who knows about it.
Casting JonBenet will be stream on Netflix beginning April 28, 2017. It will also get a limited theatrical run. The JonBenet case has been in the news a lot lately as nostalgia for the crime case has reached peek interest. While Casting JonBenet is the latest in a long line of recent documentaries and docu-series focusing on the crime, it takes everything we know and shows it in a new, very different light. You can see some of this retelling in the video below. It arrives along with the first poster, courtesy of Netflix. And it is just one of many new original movies and TV shows coming to the streaming service over the next couple of months.