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#6 Audiovisual Productions Of True Crime Stories For Those Who Love The Genre

The true crime genre is increasingly gaining ground and making a  presence in the entertainment world. These stories can take the form of podcasts, movies, series, documentaries and even books, seeking to illustrate real crimes, exploring their details, motivations, planning, consequences and investigation.

The crimes portrayed are mostly murders, with a greater focus on serial killer cases. The productions also assume a journalistic and documentary characteristic , with interviews, real footage, and the approach and representation of both sides – the victims and the guilty. 

Although the  genre brings violent stories and never happy endings, it has been growing and increasingly arousing the interest of the public, who feel involved by the dynamic way they are developed in these productions. 

In Brazil, for example, two films were released last month: “The girl who murdered her parents”, or “A menina que matou os pais” and “The boy who murdered my parents”, or “O menino que matou meus pais”, in Portuguese.  Two different versions of the same event: the murder of Manfred and Marísia von Richthofen, committed by the brothers Cristian and Daniel Cravinhos at the behest of Suzane Richthofen, the couple’s daughter. 

Using the recent releases as a trigger, we have separated other titles of the same genre for those who love true crime stories.

  1. O Caso Evandro

The ‘Evandro case’ was one of the most reported and impactful crimes in Brazilian history. In April 1992, Evandro Ramos Caetano, a six-year-old child, disappeared in the city of Guaratuba, on the coast of Paraná, and was found dead a few days later, with his hands, hair and entrails missing. A group confirmed that the boy had been used in a macabre ritual – which popularized the name of the case as “The Witches of Guaratuba”. 

The documentary series, an original production by Globoplay, is inspired by the podcast Projeto Humanos (Human Project), which was based on the case records. The series uses interviews with people and experts who were directly involved and was entirely recorded in Guaratuba. The production seeks to contextualize and break down in detail the events that led to the crime.

  1. The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez

In 2013, Gabriel Fernandez, an eight-year-old boy of Latino origin, was murdered by his mother and stepfather in Palmdale, California, where he lived. The crime, which drew attention for its brutality – the victim showed signs of torture and abuse – mobilized the United States and the world at the time, and raised debates about the failure of the social service system.

With six episodes, the Netflix documentary explores the whole context surrounding the crime and the flaws in the system, illustrated, also, by shocking testimonials from social workers and other people who were somehow related to the case.

  1. Don’t F**k with cats

The Netflix miniseries recalls, in three one-hour episodes, the case of the notorious Canadian criminal, Luka Magnotta, who outraged the country in 2010. Magnotta was posting anonymous online videos in which he appeared – without identifying himself – killing kittens in a cold and cruel way that  led to a real digital hunt.

Unlike other productions, the protagonists of the miniseries are not delegates, lawyers, or specialists, but people who saw the posts and turned the search for him into a life goal. The series also addresses the limits of the content published on the internet and the search for an audience.

  1. Elize Matsunaga: Era uma vez um crime

In 2012, one of the most televised crimes in Brazilian history took place: the murder of Marcos Matsunaga – with a shot in his head – by his wife, Elize Matsunaga.  She dismembered the body and dumped it  in plastic bags in an isolated place near the city of São Paulo. The crime shocked the attention of Brazilian society for its perversity, but also for having occurred in an important and well-known family – Marcos was one of the partners of Yoki, an important industrialized food company.

Within four episodes, the series tries to approach the “two sides”, to contextualize the crime from the point of view of Marcos’ friends and lawyers, as well as family members and Elize’s defense. Elize participates e as the main character, whose testimonials and interviews for the documentary production make up a large part of the narrative. In addition, the story  also builds the trajectory of both as a couple and the scenario in which the crime took place, exploring its details and motivations.

  1. Conversations with a killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes

In the 1970s, the serial killer Ted Bundy horrified the United States after he committed several crimes against young women – including kidnapping, rape, and murder. With his good looks and sociable personality, he challenged the stereotypes attributed to serial killers at the time and even provoked a sick, problematic adoration among American women.

Through recordings, images, testimonies, and repercussions of his crimes, the Netflix documentary uses its production to delve into the mind of one of the greatest criminals in history. Dissecting his vile and cruel mind, the documentary seeks to contextualize the era in which the crimes took place and try to understand what may have driven him to commit such atrocities.

  1. The Disappearance of Madeleine McCan

A crime that is still unsolved and surrounded by bizarre conspiracy theories created by the public, that still seeks to understand what happened to Madeleine. In 2007, when she was only three years old, the little girl disappeared from the hotel room where she spent her vacations with her parents in Praia da Luz in Portugal and was never found. For the past fourteen  years, several clues about suspects and the possible whereabouts of the girl, who, if alive now, is an eighteen-year-old adult, have emerged, but nothing concrete has been discovered and the crime remains without a conclusion. 

The Netflix miniseries unravels the details surrounding the case at several points, from the reconstruction of the day and context of her disappearance, to the huge global repercussions and investigations today. Exploring possible suspects in the crime and other theories, the documentary includes testimonials from everyone who in any way followed the case closely.

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The article above was edited by Isabela Novelli Maciel.

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Giulia Lozano Pacini

Casper Libero '23

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