This side of 'Paradise,' with Echols, Davis

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Damien Echols

Damien Echols (January 17, 2013)

What was a big shock for me was the trauma and the stress that he really was undergoing day-to-day after he was out. No one was prepared for that.

Echols: I didn't even anticipate it.

Q: Are you still in touch with Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh?

Davis: Oh yeah. We were down there in New Zealand right after Damien got out to work on our film, so we were there for three months, and "The Hobbit" was being filmed at the same time. So we were traveling around with them, working on our film while they were making "The Hobbit," so strangely we feel like we were part of it. They're very kind and generous people and very inclusive. They're like family at this point.

Q: What is your involvement with "Devil's Knot," the feature film slated for next year based on your case starring Reese Witherspoon and Colin Firth?

Davis: We don't have anything to do with that. That's fictionalized. We read the script and it was a complete character assassination. We tried to do something to get it stopped, but we couldn't.

Echols: They're calling it a fictionalized account of the mythology of the West Memphis Three case. What the hell does that mean? Lori did 85 percent of the work on this case. She did more than the attorneys and investigators put together. There were times when we couldn't afford legal bills and she was taking out personal loans. She's the one snooping through people's garbage and trying to find DNA. And she's not even a character in their movie.

Q: They didn't have to secure your life rights?

Davis: No, because his case is in the public record. It was hard, but we finally chose to stop thinking about it.

Echols: There's nothing we can do about it. People are going to do what they're going to do, with no regard to what we think or what we say. In the original script, they had me doing bizarre and crazy stuff. And it wasn't even real, it was dream sequences. And we were telling them, this is character assassination.

Davis: And it won't help our case for exoneration. People will see that character in the movie and think, who's gonna want to help that guy?

"West of Memphis" opens in Chicago Friday .

Local history

"Skokie: Invaded But Not Conquered," the new documentary from the Illinois Holocaust Museum that reexamines an attempted neo-Nazi march in the town that was home to thousands of Holocaust survivors (and about which the Tribune's Howard Reich wrote about so insightfully earlier this week) airs Thursday through Jan. 27 on WTTW. For air times, go to

Planetarium cinema

"Imagine corals as the barometer of climate change," says the artist and filmmaker Lynette Wallworth. "Imagine we are the pivot point." Her project "Coral: Rekindling Venus," offers an "immersive film experience that takes viewers underwater through the mysterious realm of fluorescent coral reefs in Australia, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia," and will debut in Chicago with "full-dome" screenings Saturday through Jan. 27 at the Adler Planetarium, presented by the Sundance Institute. Go to

The Reno stubble

A prepubescent, pre-Oscar winning Natalie Portman co-stars alongside French actor Jean Reno (playing a reclusive hit man) in "The Professional"— or, as the 1994 film was known in Franch, "Leon." It screens 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Alliance Francaise de Chicago. French wine will be served and local theater actor Barbara Robertson will lead a post-show discussion. Go to


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