Netflix announced today that it has acquired worldwide rights to Kitty Green’s groundbreaking documentary Casting JonBenet, which will have its world premiere in the US Documentary Competition at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival; the first time a nonfiction work from the company will compete. The film will launch on Netflix and in limited theatrical release in Spring of 2017.
Casting JonBenet is 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. After years of media speculation and public fascination, 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.
“For Scott and me, working with Kitty, a visionary filmmaker whose originality is matched by her empathy, has been one of the great privileges of our careers,” said James Schamus. Said Scott Macaulay: “We couldn’t be more excited to now have Netflix on her team, continuing their bold non-fiction roster.”
“Kitty boldly embraces the tradition of innovative risk-taking within the documentary filmmaking mode with her remarkable work on Casting JonBenet,” Netflix VP of Original Documentary Programming Lisa Nishimura added. “Netflix is the ideal home for showcasing Kitty’s sharply-rendered vision of a mythic American tragedy to a global audience, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the crime.”