At times Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer seems to be more about the struggles of making a documentary when surrounded by difficult people than about what is ultimately a tragic, crazy story about a woman who turned to murder. While Broomfield’s documentary is interesting- and never boring- it’s also nothing new when it comes to true crime docs. The most interesting moments are when we are shown what it’s really like to make a documentary and the struggles film makers face when talking to people who, well, just don’t want to talk.
Aileen Wuornos was somewhat a media headliner after being dubbed Americas first female serial killer. If this isn’t already enough of a story Nick Broomfield is forced to abandon the usual role of ‘watcher’ and dive head first in his attempts to interview the people surrounding this story- including Wournos herself. At times we watch uncomfortably as Broomfield argues and becomes impatient with his interviewees who seem less than willing to help out (despite being paid for their time!). It’s very raw, it’s very real, and it’s very interesting from the angle of the making of a documentary.
The Selling of a Serial Killer focuses on Wuornos who while working as a prostitute killed only her male clients and at the time of her arrest (and while committing these horrific crimes) was in a relationship with a woman. Things start to get crazier when a Christian woman adopts her. Arlene Pralle, now the mother of Wournos, comes across as a fascinatingly fake character and Broomfield makes no attempt to make her appear genuine. We see what’s there, and what’s there is undeniably troublesome. Finally we have Steve Glazer a guitar wielding lawyer/Pralle’s agent (?) who has the weirdest advert for his services- they can only be described as looking like they’ve been stolen from Saul Goodman. Together Pralle and Glazer seem to be in it for the money, between press deals and demanding money to be part of Broomfield’s documentary the whole thing is rather shady.
While Broomfield’s documentary breaks no new ground in terms of story telling or with documentary as a genre it’s still an interesting watch. It’s an up close look at people, a journey into the reality of corruption, betrayal, and crime.
The Netflix original series, Making a Murderer, is making quite a splash across the globe. Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi’s documentary, that took ten years and complete immersion into the community to film is currently one of the most controversial documentaries. From Reddit to News reports to the Anonymous hacktivist group it’s hard to shy away from the blaring show of support and anger this documentary has stirred up.
If you’re looking for a documentary with a story that will shock, showing you something that’s probably out of your comfort zone, then watch Jesus Camp. Of course Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing’s documentary shows nothing really new when it comes to the religious right, but some of it’s lively and it is an engaging watch. A well made documentary all round, with a great running time of 87 minutes it’s worth a watch.
Jesus Camp begins with a radio host absolutely disgusted with what is going on in one particular religious group and their “Kids on Fire School of Ministry” – we can only wonder why. Fortunately we don’t have to wonder for long as the films jumps right into thick of this Christian summer camp. It’s provocative, with scenes of children crying, having their mouths taped shut and speaking in tongues, there’s also politics, and a whole lot of other material that makes your mind scream ‘what????’.
This documentary observes the community it’s following extremely well, with members of the “Kids on Fire School of Ministry” even stating that it’s an accurate portrayal, which is the craziest thing of all. Unfortunately there’s no twists, reveals or surprise endings, (see The Impostor and Tabloid if you’re looking for something truly mind- blowing) but Jesus Camp is shocking enough you keep you watching. It’s the kind of documentary you want to show people.
Jesus Camp is what it is, which is a documentary following a religious group whose thoughts and ideals go against the liberal norm. It’s in- your- face and it never turns away from what it’s showing you- a thought provoking documentary.