Advertisement
TV

Casting JonBenet: Are we in a post-true crime TV era?

Casting JonBenet director Kitty Green on examining our relationship with public tragedy

Casting JonBenet, written and directed by Kitty Green, offers a new angle on the most famous cold case in recent American history. Six-year-old child beauty pageant queen JonBenet Ramsey was found murdered at her home in Boulder, Colorado, on Boxing Day in 1996, sparking a huge investigation and wild public speculation, with suspects ranging from family members to local police and a professional Santa Claus impersonator.

Rather than revealing new evidence or aiming to solve the case, Green’s documentary examines our relationship with public tragedy. She asks local actors to audition to play the Ramsey family in a never-to-be-made film, and through the audition process, hears their theories on the case, before, crucially, teasing out the personal tragedies that exist in the shadow of a more famous, public tragedy.

Nobody really knew what happened yet there were all these fictional narratives bandied about

“There’s definitely been a trend towards true crime,” says Green. “But now it feels like we are moving beyond it. We could be post-true crime. Our role has to be to analyse things from all angles, to show the contradictions and the paradoxes. It is just propaganda if you have one idea and your conclusion before you start.

“We set out to make a film about some of the narratives people tell in order to deal with something they can’t understand, like the death of a child, which is incomprehensible. Nobody really knew what happened yet there were all these fictional narratives bandied about.

“I’d ask about Patsy Ramsey [JonBenet’s mother] and people would tell me about their own mother. It was fascinating how quickly and easily they opened up – about issues from sexual abuse to domestic violence.

“The film is out when everyone is questioning fact and fake news. If we’re not going to know who killed JonBenet, hopefully we can have closure in some other way.”

Advertisement
Advertisement

Casting JonBenet is on Netflix

Advertisement

Bigger Issues need bigger solutions

Big Issue Group is creating new solutions through enterprise to unlock opportunities for the 14.5 million people living in poverty to earn, learn and thrive. Big Issue Group brings together our media and investment initiatives as well as a diverse and pioneering range of new solutions, all of which aim to dismantle poverty by creating opportunity. Learn how you can change lives today.

Recommended for you

Read All
The Odd Throuple: Only Murders In The Building is back with a triumphant second season
TV

The Odd Throuple: Only Murders In The Building is back with a triumphant second season

'I hope young activists will take heart': Sir Nick Partridge on Aids: The Unheard Tapes
TV

'I hope young activists will take heart': Sir Nick Partridge on Aids: The Unheard Tapes

Rainn Wilson on the time Bryan Cranston almost killed the cast of The Office
TV

Rainn Wilson on the time Bryan Cranston almost killed the cast of The Office

'Sherwood is important. It forces people to remember that the political is personal'
TV

'Sherwood is important. It forces people to remember that the political is personal'

Most Popular

Read All
Exclusive: BT call centre sets up 'food bank' for its own staff
1.

Exclusive: BT call centre sets up 'food bank' for its own staff

Prince William: 'Why I wanted to work with The Big Issue'
2.

Prince William: 'Why I wanted to work with The Big Issue'

Rainn Wilson emailed Star Trek: Strange New Worlds to say Harry Mudd would 'fit right in'
3.

Rainn Wilson emailed Star Trek: Strange New Worlds to say Harry Mudd would 'fit right in'

The UK approach to replacing the Human Rights Act is just as worrying as the replacement itself
4.

The UK approach to replacing the Human Rights Act is just as worrying as the replacement itself

Keep up to date with The Big Issue. The leading voice on life, politics, culture and social activism direct to your inbox.