DOC NYC: Barbara Kopple (SHS '64) on Her True Crime Tale, A Murder in Mansfield

MV5BMjA3ODQ5Njc2M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMzMzNDI0OQ__._V1_UX214_CR0_0_214_317_AL_.jpg“A friend of mine has this absolutely fantastic story that we should all do together.”

"Barbara Kopple heard these words, she tells me, on a phone call last year with producer John Morrissey (American History X). She’s likely heard such preambles before. Kopple has directed documentaries for more than 40 years, from her landmark labor-strike feature Harlan County U.S.A. to her profiles of Woody Allen (Wild Man Blues), the Dixie Chicks (Shut Up & Sing) and the late, eternally great Sharon Jones (Miss Sharon Jones!)"

Morrissey wanted to pitch Kopple a film on Collier Landry, an L.A.-based filmmaker whose mother disappeared in 1989 when he was 11 years old. Twenty-six days after her disappearance, her body was found beaten, suffocated, and ultimately buried beneath the basement of the family home. All signs pointed to Collier’s father, a prominent doctor and unabashed philanderer in the town of Mansfield, Ohio, as the murderer. Collier went into foster care and testified against his father during the trial. The jury found him guilty, and with that Collier lost both parents in a matter of months.

Kopple’s film, her second this year after This Is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous, follows Collier as he returns to Mansfield to make peace with his past. His chief target, of course, is his father, who remains in prison and still maintains his innocence. Set against a brutal Midwestern winter, A Murder in Mansfield takes the form of a true crime saga to depict the insidious effects of childhood trauma.

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