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Like Sheridan’s prior five-hour documentary, SkyCrime’s “Murder at the Cottage,” “Re-creation” turns on what the earlier title calls Ireland’s most shocking unresolved crime whose victim, French TV producer Sophie Toscan du Plantier, was battered to death at her holiday home in West Cork, Ireland, in 1996. 

A fiction/reality hybrid feature, “Re-creation” introduces a fictional jury, inspired by Sidney Lumet’s “12 Angry Men,” which sifts through the facts, lies and convenient truths behind the murder, Sheridan told Variety.

Krieps plays jury member No. 8 “which is a kind of proxy for Sophie, a kind of a voice for her in the film. Sheridan added. The director plays the jury foreman.

Received wisdom is that Toscan du Plantier was murdered by a neighbor, Ian Bailey. First seen at the Venice Gap Financing Market, “Re-creation” offers another possible narrative.

Krieps plays jury member No. 8 “which is a kind of proxy for Sophie, a kind of a voice for her in the film,” Sheridan added. The director plays the jury foreman.

“To have the opportunity to help a genius fulfil a dream is always satisfying. To work to have the world see this masterpiece that Jim is concocting is a fascinating experience,” said Latido Films head Antonio Saura.

“Jim and David have a personal obsession and know every detail of this trial case, and they will prove through fiction that mistakes were made in the ‘real’ trial,” he added.

“So this is a trial film that hopes to undo the wrongs. Being witness to this unique process of re creation, to see how they work with the actors and the material to invent through fiction a new reality is an incredible satisfaction. I am sure Jim and David will deliver one of the best films of the yeaR,” he went on.

“Re-creation” is currently in production, with about two thirds of the film shot. Variety talked to its directors on the cusp of the EFM.

Why make a film now on the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier?

Sheridan: After the five-hour documentary, I was finished with it. I was out. But David Merriman, whom I met on a benefit to the homeless, reinvigorated my interest, he was so passionate about funding the truth. Also, having done “In the Name of the Father,” a movie which castigated the British legal system over its treatment of an innocent Irish man, I thought I should do a movie which castigated the Irish legal system with whom I believe to be an innocent Englishman. So I could balance the books before I depart this life.

Merriman: I think all Jim’s films are about the truth. If you look at “In the Name of the Father,” “In America,” “My Left Foot,” “The Boxer,” “The Field,” these are all movies about trying to get to the truth. In the case of this film our film, a narrative has been created, particularly in the ‘90s, where the police and the media were incredibly intertwined and the media were reliant, uh, in a pre-internet world on the police. A story got going and a story has endured through the years and half truths and misunderstandings and outright distortions at times have been made to make Ian Bailey look more guilty.

Also, a lot of people wanted the murder solved….

Merriman: The police presented a story about a victim, a villain and a hero. We’re storytelling creatures. From a social point of view, people want to feel safe. They want to feel like a murder has been solved. The narrative we’re creating is to look at what’s actually been done and interrogate that in an honest way.

Sheridan: The big crime, the disgusting crime, if he didn’t do it, is the police still convincing the French family that Bailey did it. That’s inconceivable evil to me: Abusing the grief of people and saying: “No, no, we solved it.”

Of “12 Angry Men,” Gavin Smith of Film Comment called the film “a definitive rebuttal to the lynch mob hysteria of the McCarthy era.” Would you say the film is especially relevant because we’re in another era of lynch-mob mentality?

Sheridan: That’s very interesting. Hollywood was infected by the mob trial, there was a blacklist, and Hollywood was a very conservative environment, deep down.

How are you dividing up directing?

Sheridan: I’m in the film as the foreman of the jury. There’s a lot of time when I’m on the floor and Dave is directing but then sometimes I would direct the actors. it’s very fluid. There’s no sense of who’s in charge of what. Dave interacted a lot with the crew and camera. We had fun doing it together.

Merriman: Jim and I have been working together for about two and a half years pretty intensely on this and on other projects as well. Obviously Jim’s a genius. Everybody knows that. I don’t aspire to be a genius. But I do think we have a good partnership and watching Jim work with actors, bring something out of them that you couldn’t see there was amazing for me.

Did you have a screenplay and how much room did it have for improvisation.

Sheridan: There was a screenplay as guide, and then there was some improvisation. Then consequent to shooting and editing, the film is finding its own legs and finding new avenues to explore. We’re exposing the prejudices of each jury member.

True crime is about facts. Usually it’s about, well, the legal world is supposed to be about facts and evidence, and it’s not supposed to be about emotion. It’s supposed to reduce emotion out of the argument so people can decide in a kind of abstract way, what the truth is. That never happens. Emotion plays a big part. I usually deal with emotion. The documentary was very constraining for me, so I needed to release myself and find the emotional truth of what I felt, which is this one.

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