He may be on deadline to edit the first of two Hobbit films for its release later this year, but Sir Peter Jackson will be heading to the New Zealand International Film Festival early next month to introduce West of Memphis, the documentary he and partner Fran Walsh produced about the West Memphis Three.

The then-teenage trio of Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley were convicted for the 1993 murders of three eight-year-old boys in Arkansas.

Last year they were released after entering "Alford" no-contest pleas to lesser charges after fresh DNA evidence analysis, meaning they could be freed while not being legally exonerated.

Joining Jackson at the film's Civic screening on August 2 will be Echols, who visited New Zealand before to visit Jackson on the set of The Hobbit after his release from prison.


Jackson, Walsh, Echols and his wife Lorri Davis, also a producer on the film, all attended the documentary's world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year.

Having become active in the campaign for the trio's release, Jackson and Walsh backed the film, hiring director Amy Berg on the strength of Deliver Us From Evil, which she made about sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church.

"They were very busy on The Hobbit but they were always accessible to me. Their response time was unbelievable - minutes, seconds sometimes. But they let me make the film that I wanted to make," Berg told TimeOut in an interview to appear in next week's issue which features extensive festival coverage.

Though Jackson and Echols will be in attendance at the festival to introduce the film, it's not known if they will host a question and answer session.

Among other international guests at the Auckland festival, which starts next Thursday, are Bully director Lee Hirsch, The Ambassador director and star Mads Brugger, and Platige Image Animation director Maciej Jackiewicz.

- TimeOut