Joe Berlinger Plans Martin Luther King Assassination Film And Documentary

Joe Berlinger, Martin Luther King

by James White |
Published on

Having pulled off working on both a documentary and narrative film about serial killer Ted Bundy, filmmaker Joe Berlinger is looking to make similar projects about another historical figure. He's on board to direct Slay The Dreamer, which will chart efforts to reopen the investigation into the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King.

Slay The Dreamer will be based on the life of Reverend James Lawson, a friend and advisor to King who invited him to speak to the sanitation workers on strike in Memphis on 5 April 1968, where he was shot dead. Lawson spent years after the event looking into the gaps in the official story about who pulled the trigger – James Earl Ray was eventually convicted – and tracked down Grace Walden, the only eyewitness to the shooting, who had turned down a reward and refused to sign an affidavit pointing to Ray. She was then held in a mental institution under a false name for years, while the official files on the matter remain sealed even today.

Leonard Hill originated the new film, which has a script from Donald Freed and Mark Lane, the latter one of the original freedom riders and civil rights marchers. "This is an extremely painful chapter of American history that for many remains unresolved," Berlinger tells Deadline. "In this era of accountability and racial division, I am extremely humbled at the prospect of working with Revered Lawson to shine a light on what really happened that fateful day 51 years ago."

Berlinger's Bundy documentary, Conversations With A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes, was released on Netflix on 24 January, while his Zac Efron-starring film Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil And Vile will be in UK cinemas on 3 May, and on Sky Cinema the same day.

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