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Netflix Acquires Sundance Documentary ‘Casting JonBenet’

Kitty Green film launches on streaming service and in theaters this spring

Netflix has acquired worldwide rights to Kitty Green’s documentary “Casting JonBenet,” the company announced on Wednesday.

The film will premiere in the US Documentary Competition at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. It’s the first time a nonfiction work from the company will compete.

‘Casting JonBenet’ will launch on Netflix and in limited theatrical release this spring.

The film is a 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.

The film was pPoduced 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”). It 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 Schamus in a statement.

“We couldn’t be more excited to now have Netflix on her team, continuing their bold non-fiction roster,” added Macaulay.

“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.”