Bruce Sinofsky, Oscar-Nominated Co-Director of ‘Paradise Lost’ Trilogy, Passes Away at 58
Bruce Sinofsky, the Emmy-winning and Oscar-nominated co-director of the Paradise Lost documentary trilogy, has passed away at the age of 58. His collaborator and Paradise Lost co-director Joe Berlinger confirmed Sinofsky’s passing this morning, due to complications from diabetes.
Sinofsky was best known for co-directing 2004's Metallica: Some Kind of Monster documentary as well as the Paradise Lost doc trilogy. The first documentary from that series was released in 1996, and chronicled the trial of three teens — Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley Jr. and Jason Baldwin — who were accused of horrifically murdering three young boys in the Arkansas foothills. Although there was hardly any evidence suggesting their involvement, prosecutors accused the trio, dubbed the West Memphis Three, of participating in satanic rituals, based mostly on the type of music they listened to and the clothes they wore.
Over the course of 15 years, Sinofsky and Berlinger made three docs in the series, capturing the efforts of the three convicted teens, who spent over 18 years behind bars, to undergo appeals and exonerate themselves. Thanks to the Paradise Lost documentaries, the struggles of the West Memphis Three attracted the attention of the national media, as well as celebrities like Johnny Depp and Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder. After over 18 years in prison, the Arkansas courts allowed the West Memphis Three to submit what’s known as an Alford Plea — which allows a defendant to admit guilt while maintaining their innocence — and they were finally, victoriously released.
Due to Sinofsky and Berlinger’s efforts and the attention they attracted through their trilogy of documentaries, three innocent men were finally granted the freedom they deserved. Sinofsky’s contributions to their release cannot be understated.
Variety spoke with Berlinger, who both confirmed Sinofsky’s death and fondly remembered his collaborator:
Bruce’s humanity is on every frame of the films that he leaves behind, and words can’t express how graced I feel my life has been by having the extraordinary opportunity of being able to say we were partners and, more importantly, best friends
Sinofsky went on to direct several episodes of the Sundance series Iconoclasts, as well as episodes of Oprah Presents: Master Class, and more recently, Oprah’s Master Class: Civil Rights Special, which aired in January.