Joe Berlinger, the director of Netflix documentary-series Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes, accused Amber Sealey, director of the film No Man of God, of promoting her work at his expense.
Sealey’s film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Berlinger sent an email to Sealey on Saturday, referring to some of Sealey’s interviews and calling her work “intellectually dishonest” for “tearing down my work to promote yours”. He said that her film castigated his work as glorification.
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In 2019, Berlinger spearheaded two projects on the infamous American serial killer Ted Bundy — Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes, and Zac Efron-starrer Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile.
Sealey posted his email to her on social media with the hashtags #femalefilmmakerfriday and #bundyisdivisive.
In it, Berlinger had written: “Do you know anything about me and my 30 years focusing on criminal justice issues in my work, from wrongful conviction to victim advocacy? Interestingly, my Bundy doc series was accused by some of glorification because it discussed the hideous violence against women, and then my Bundy movie with Efron, which came out second, was criticized for glorifying Bundy by NOT showing any violence (until the final scene).”
“Which is it? Is it glorification to feature the violence or is it glorification to not show the violence?” he said.
He further implied that Sealey’s work contrary to meeting with a similar fate, will be “a great talking point” by virtue of the fact that she is a woman and “that a woman should direct a film about this subject is spot on”.
Speaking about Bundy, who was accused of killing over 30 women across four states in the US, Sealey told Refinery29, “I was certainly daunted by the fact that there had been so many movies made about him. And then I thought, ‘If there’s going to be another one, I’m going to make it stand apart from the rest of the crowd‘. I don’t personally believe that any of the movies that have already been made up until now have really shown the real Bundy. They always glorify him. They make him out to be a male model — so smart, so charismatic, a master of disguise. I don’t see that. When I look at him and I watch interviews and I listen to the tapes, I see a deeply insecure, needy — almost like an incel — kind of guy who just wants accolades and wants people to tell him how great he is.”
No Man of God features actor Elijah Wood, best known for starring in The Lord of the Rings, as FBI analyst Bill Hagmaier, with actor Luke Kirby, won an Emmy for his guest role in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, stepping into the shoes of Bundy.
According to Sealey, the film is “more about Bill Hagmaier, and the relationship between the two men.”