Perennially provocative documentarian Nick Broomfield (Aileen Wuornos: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Biggie and Tupac) digs into the case of the notorious serial killer known as the "Grim Sleeper," who terrorized South Central Los Angeles over a span of twenty-five years.
Throughout Nick Broomfield's career, he
has frequently turned to crime investigations
(Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a
Serial Killer, Biggie & Tupac) that raise
larger questions about gender, race, and
class inequalities in America. Now he digs
into the case of a South Central Los Angeles
serial killer known as the Grim Sleeper,
whose string of murders spanned twenty-five years. Lonnie Franklin Jr. was arrested
for the crimes in 2010. His court case still
drags on as police seek connections to over
a hundred unsolved murders.
Broomfield's first-person presence in Tales
of the Grim Sleeper is more subdued than in
his other films. He enlists the help of a former
prostitute, Pam, who shines as a lively, funny,
and courageous personality. Together they hit
the streets to dig up information where the
police investigation has run cold. Broomfield
researches a citizens' group called the Black
Coalition Fighting Back Serial Murders,
formed out of frustration over the lack of
police action on the case back in the 1980s.
In archival clips and new interviews, he documents
the coalition's refusal to let the Grim
Sleeper's victims be forgotten.
The film reveals a social strata that has
largely been left to fend for itself, failed
by institutions of law, education, and job
opportunity. Behind the camera is the director's
son, Barney Broomfield, who also shot
with Hubert Sauper in Sudan for We Come
as Friends. His skilful cinematography
conveys a dignity to street characters subsisting
in an underground economy, as the
elder Broomfield's film builds to a powerful
assemblage of testimony conveying a grave
injustice that extends well beyond this case.