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USA, 2000 (MIFF 2000, Documentaries)

Director: Julian P. Hobbs

Violence is the life-blood of American culture. Criminals attain mythological status; the crimes are replayed by the media forming a perverse mirror image of the dominant American myth of the self-made man. The serial killer is the most recent 'folk hero' in a line that stretches back through mobsters, gun-slingers and outlaws. The personality profile of the serial killer as intelligent, white, male, suburban terminators-helped along by Hollywood antiheroes like Hannibal Lechter—has spawned a merchandising phenomenon that rivals Mickey Mouse. This macabre but compelling documentary gets under the skin of a unique breed of collector: a small but growing group of agents, gallery owners and entrepreneurs who market art, possessions and memorabilia gleaned from living and dead multiple murderers. Often in collusion with the killers themselves, characters like Rick and Tobias (profiled in the film) trade in paintings, letters and drawings by the likes of the Boston Strangler, John Wayne Gacy and Jeffrey Dahlmer. The toll this takes on surviving family members and their unrepentant attitude to profiting from death makes for disturbing viewing.

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