It’s so great to be back at the Toronto International Film Festival! I felt nostalgic the moment I stepped off the train. The rushed breakfasts, the possibility of a close encounter with your favourite celebrity, the feeling that I’m finally starting to know my way around this once intimidating city, and the hope of catching one of the year’s best films keep me coming back every year. And, for the first time, I get to share the experience with my parents. So why am I tempted to just skip my next movie and go to bed early?
Partly, it’s because I woke up at 4 a.m. yesterday to catch my train and got back to my hotel at 2:30 a.m. this morning after a Midnight Madness screening. Partly, it’s because I’ve been catching four screenings a day since I got here. Both good reasons I think for me to be getting close to early TIFF fatigue but Amanda Knox, which just had its world premiere at the Festival, is another big reason why I couldn’t sleep last night.
Though it was apparently international news back in 2007, I really don’t remember Knox’s story. Amanda Knox was in her early twenties when she was arrested and convicted of murdering her roommate while vacationing in Italy. This wonderful documentary follows her road to exoneration over a period of several years.
What’s unsettling about this film is what apparently captivated the media nearly a decade ago. It’s Amanda. Young, pretty, charismatic, and full of life, she doesn’t look or sound like she’d be capable of such a heinous crime. So when she looks directly into the camera and calmly says, “Either I’m a psychopath in sheep’s clothing, or I’m you,” I get the shivers.
As a true crime documentary, Amanda Knox is every bit as gripping as Netflix’s Making a Murderer. But, despite having only a fraction of the running time with which to do it, it manages to give a more balanced look at the case than the controversially one-sided Netflix phenomenon. Knox and her Italian now ex-boyfriend and co-defendent are interviewed extensively, as is the Italian homicide detective that maintains their guilt to this day. You’re bound to like and trust some of the interviewees more than others but, according to the filmmakers, each of them have seen the film and every one of them feels that they have been represented fairly.
I still don’t know what happened that night nine years ago. Maybe that’s why the police, media, and public turned on Amanda so quickly. Not knowing is scary. It keeps us up at night (or, in my case, last night). The good news is that, even if you couldn’t make it to Toronto this year, you’ll get a chance to decide for yourself. Amanda Knox will be on Netflix later this month.
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