“When you make these films you need to work very closely with people from the community. You’re only as good as your relationship with them.”
Over the course of twenty-five years, Lonnie Franklin may have murdered upward of one hundred women. Named as a suspect in the “Grim Sleeper” murders of South Central Los Angeles, he wasn't arrested until 2010. Further, this arrest happened almost by accident, and only when a computer's DNA match linked him to a possible twenty victims. Police put no effort into the case because the women being killed were poor, black, and mostly prostitutes. Had this happened in Beverly Hills, it would have probably made national news.
An official selection of the 2014 Telluride, Toronto, and New York film festivals, Nick Broomfield’s documentary Tales of the Grim Sleeper explores the impoverished neighborhood where these murders took place. Broomfield—director of Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer (2013)—is accompanied by his son and director of photography—Barney Broomfield—as he befriends men and women living in this community and attempts to reveal how these killings went unsolved for so long. Along the way, Broomfield exposes the prejudice and injustice that led police to flat-out ignore the cases (the LAPD refused to comment for the film). Police were even alleged to have used a slang term, NHI (no human involved), when a victim was a prostitute, drug addict, or gang member.
As Broomfield charges through the neglected LA neighborhood, he interviews those who knew Lonnie Franklin personally, including both his close friends and victims. In the tight-knit community, many are loathe to believe the well-liked Lonnie could have perpetrated such violence without their knowledge. But, as evidence mounts against him, everyone is forced to reconsider his involvement in dark deeds. The film reaches an emotional climax when Broomfield confronts Lonnie's son Chris, then speaks with individual women who were actually assaulted by Lonnie, but escaped.[ Read More ]