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‘Assassins’ Director Ryan White on Whether Kim Jong-nam Murderers Were ‘Duped’ or ‘Trained Assassins’ (Video)

Sundance 2020: ”They were both susceptible to this appeal to stardom and this better life and fame and fortune,“ producer Jessica Hargrave says

When putting together his newest documentary, “Assassins,” Ryan White wanted to pose a simple question: Were the women who assassinated Kim Jong-nam in 2017 trained assassins, or did they really do it as part of a reality TV show?

North Korean royal family member Kim Jong-nam, Kim Jong-un’s half brother, was publicly murdered at Kuala Lumpur International Airport when two women attacked him with VX nerve agent. When the two women were arrested, they claimed they believed they were on some sort of a reality TV program or prank show.

“That was kind of our entry point: this bizarre story of two female political assassins and we followed their rial for the last two years,” White told TheWrap’s Brian Welk. “They were on death row in Malaysia, they pleaded not guilty saying they thought they were on a reality show when they committed the assassination. So our documentary interrogates the question of whether they are trained assassins or whether they could have been duped into committing this political assassination.”

The Malaysian government scoffed, arrested and imprisoned the women and put them on trial for murder, facing execution. But was their outlandish story actually the truth? And would anyone believe them? “Assassins” travels from the sanctums of Pyongyang to the rice fields of Indonesia and Vietnam to the courtrooms of Kuala Lumpur to tell an extraordinary tale of manipulation and subterfuge in the age of social media.

“Basically, they were both susceptible to this appeal to stardom and this better life and fame and fortune, so when someone approached them asking if they want to be on a prank show, they both were looking for opportunity, looking for a better life,” Hargrave added.

“Assassins” was produced by Jessica Hargrave and White. Executive producers are Doug Bock Clark, Dan Cogan, and Geralyn White Dreyfous.

On Friday, Magnolia acquired the rights to the film, with plans to release the true-crime documentary later this year.

Watch the video above.