The new documentary Casting JonBenet premiered at Sundance earlier this year and is now making its debut on Netflix.
The film is not a true-crime investigation. It doesn't dig into the facts or try to unearth new evidence in the 1996 still-unsolved murder of six-year-old JonBenet Ramsey.
Instead, the film uses footage of actors auditioning to perform in a film about the crime. In the process, they reveal their own wide-ranging reactions to the case -- which continues to be a source of fascination and speculation more than 20 years after Ramsey's death.
The director of Casting JonBenet is 32-year-old Australian filmmaker Kitty Green. And this is not her first time working in an unconventional fashion. For her 2013 documentary, Ukraine Is Not a Brothel, Green embedded with a radical feminist group in Kiev during the country's revolution, and ended up, she says, getting abducted by the KGB. The charge against her? Filming a protest.
Making her newest film was emotionally intense, but not quite that harrowing. For Casting JonBenet, Green traveled to Boulder, Colorado -- the scene of the crime -- to film auditions with local actors to play the parents -- John and Patsy Ramsey -- their son Burke, JonBenet herself, and others who were caught up in the saga.
For many viewers, Casting JonBenet raises immediate questions about whether the actors auditioning for roles in a nonexistent movie had been duped. Green tells us how that was not the case -- she says she carefully explained to participants what they were signing up for, and that for many people living in Boulder, telling their JonBenet stories and theories ended up being a cathartic experience.