DOC NYC 2014:TALES OF THE GRIM SLEEPER (2014)
I missed it at NYFF, laid low by an illness that had me missing several films, so its reappearance at DOC NYC made it a must see.
The film is the story of the Grim Sleeper, a serial killer so named because it’s believed to have gone to sleep for 15 years between killings. The problem is he didn’t go to sleep and Lonnie Franklin Jr, now believed to be the killer went on for decades racking up a total that is anywhere from 18 certain victims to a seemingly unbelievable total of well over 400. This is a look at a serial killer amongst us and how the police and society allowed the killing to go on for decades.
I’m in awe.
Broomfield, drawn to the insanity of the case goes into the South Central LA neighborhood and started to ask questions. Helped by people who wanted to talk or knew someone he should talk to, as well as a woman named Pam who is a great lady, Broomfield begins to unravel the case that went back over thirty years.
Revelation follows revelation as Broomfield really shows how the police did nothing, despite knowing a serial killer was operating thanks to ballistics. They told no one and let the killings go on because all of the victims were black, many prostitutes or drug users. The police cared so little that many times when a body was found it would be tagged NHI meaning no human involved.
Yea they didn’t care.
But some of the women in the neighborhood did and they formed a group to try and get word out. Not many listened…
…and weirdly until Broomfield started to get people thinking and talking many people many of of the friends of accused killer Franklin didn’t think he could have done it, until the stories of his darkness came out…
This film will rock your world as you see how not only institutions failed (well before the killings to the point one woman tells her son if anything ever happens never call the police) but in away so did the people who should have known better- I mean despite professing that Franklin was a nice helpful guy, they all knew he was a sick man.
This film is so good that I really need to see it again to be able to write on it since so much happens and there are so many revelations I didn’t catch everything.
After the film Broomfield did a Q&A.
I asked the first question asking him why he did the film or what drew him to it. He said it was the enormity of the crime. The number of those killed could be so huge that there never will be an accounting since many bodies are believed to be in landfills (Franklin worked as a garbage man for a time)
Other questions deleved deeper into the twists and turns of the case. One woman asked if Broomfield paid anyone in the film. He said Pam was paid because she was doing so much, and he gave some money to other people, but he said most people weren’t or wouldn’t take it. He said that it was opposite to the rich and famous who he dealt with, all of whom wanted to be well compensated.
Broomfield also explained that the reason he’s in the film was that by doing so we took the trip with him. We saw what he did and it makes us part of the film.
He also said that a recent screening in LA brought together the families of the victims, people in the film, the police, prosecutors and legal defense team. Broomfield said that after years of trying to get an interview with authorities they were asking for tickets to the film (prompted he said by needing to see the film that was being extensively written about and causing waves). Broomfield said that one of the retired detectives was impressed with the film.
I’m not only impressed by the film but in awe. The film kicked me all over the place and gave me much to think about.
You owe it to yourself to see this film.
The film is getting a brief run in December for Oscar qualifying before showing up on HBO in early 2015, which means you’ll have plenty of chances to see it.