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Casting JonBenét takes new approach to true crime story

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Thousands of hours of media coverage have been spent on JonBenét Ramsey’s murder. Even two decades after, the story remains one of the most popular cold cases ever and countless documentaries, books, and TV shows claim to have found the truth about what happened to the 6-year-old pageant queen. Stepping away from the tired “Whodunnit?’’ narrative, Australian director Kitty Green breaks into new territory with her documentary Casting JonBenét by probing the public, instead of family, police and suspects.

Everyone who has lived in Boulder, Colo., has a theory of the Ramsey murder. Casting JonBenét follows Green as she travels to Boulder doing interviews about the legacy of the mysterious killing and how it shaped what was once a picture-perfect community. The filmmakers held auditions for a role in an imaginary film about the case, reassembling the story through their test footage and in costume interviews of the actors lined up to play the Ramseys with the focal point being the women lined up to play Patsy, JonBenét’s mother, giving their personal theories as to whether she killed her own daughter.

Casting JonBenét is far from a traditional documentary. It doesn’t have any voice over, true footage, or even feature the people involved in the case. It also has highly stylized cinematic scenes, like JonBenét dancing around in her famous angel wings pageant outfit.

The movie leaves a bit of a creepy vibe, especially evident in the scenes of young boys reenacting the theory that the Ramsey’s older son, Burke, killed his sister by smashing her in the head with a baseball bat, but it takes a different angle at the all-too-publicized tragedy, not focusing on the victim but on the community she left behind.

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The student news site of McNeil High School
Casting JonBenét takes new approach to true crime story