Paolo Romio as Raffaele Sollecito and Hayden Panettiere as Seattle-raised Amanda Knox in the movie "Amanda Knox: Murder on Trial in Italy" scheduled to air Feb. 21 in America on the Lifetime TV cable channel.
Amanda Knox film now on trial, lawyers issue legal challenge to Lifetime TV
For the first time since West Seattle-raised Amanda Knox was imprisoned in Italy over three years ago, those who prosecuted her in the Perugia courthouse, the parents of the murdered victim Meredith Kercher, and Knox herself are all unified in a battle. They want the Lifetime cable TV film touted as being based on true events of the trial off the air, movie trailer and all. "Amanda Knox: Murder on Trial in Italy" is scheduled to air in the U.S. Feb. 21. It is licensed to then air in Great Britain, where the Kercher family lives, before hitting the Italian air.
The prosecution disapproves of the film because, according to some reports, its members have concerns they will be depicted as bunglers.
Meredith's father, John, who believes Knox is guilty and has a lawyer in the courtroom fighting to insure she and her boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito remain in jail in the wake of the current appeal trial, was quoted in Italy's largest daily, the Corriere della Sera as saying, "There is a lot of speculation or overzealous imagination about what happened, but in reality to see all this is very sad."
He refers to the trailer complete with gory scenes, which today (Feb. 9) was removed from Lifetime's website. It still appears on Youtube and The Telegraph newspaper website.
He added, "I am surprised they went so far with it. I was told that the film would end at the moment leading up to the murder, but it seems clear that these images show the murder."
Amanda's step-father, Arbor Heights resident Chris Mellas, told the West Seattle Herald, "Amanda watches TV and has seen what has been shown over and over on the news, but she did not watch the (entire) trailer." He said the TV news in Italy has repeated gory sequences taken from the trailer. "They show one freeze frame here, then there. When Amanda saw herself depicted by someone (actress Hayden Panettiere) she started to hyperventilate and almost started to puke.
"I don't know what the movie says other than what I see in the trailer," Mellas said. Nobody in Amanda's family were consulted on the film. In the trailer there are flashes of depictions of violent sex-play between Kercher, Knox, Sollecito, and Ivory Coast-born Rudy Guede, also found guilty of the murder, and close-ups of Kercher screaming wildly as Sollecito's and Guede's arms hold her down.
More shocking may be publicity stills sent in PR kits to media outlets depicting Knox on top of Kercher with the knife who is held down by Sollecito and Guede.
"You see the knife just about ready to plunge into Meredith's throat," said Mellas. "This scene never happened in reality. They are putting it out like it's the truth. That clip is on the news, in the newspaper. It's everywhere. That's not allowed according to the law in Italy because the trial is still going on. The falsehoods in the movie could influence the jury."
Knox's lawyers officially filed a complaint to Lifetime to ban the movie, clips, and photos from Italy. Mellas said that while the Kerchers have complained in the media, he was not aware that they also filed a legal complaint.
"They have until Feb. 10 to respond," he said, adding that because of the time difference he may hear something Friday, Feb. 11. (Still no word.) "If they don't, we file injunction to block the movie. Our goal is that the movie is not shown in Italy. At first we thought if we complained about the movie, it's only going to draw more attention to it. But when we saw the trailer, that's when we said this needs to be dealt with, when events that didn't happen were being shown worldwide."
Had Lifetime run a more neutral trailer, Mellas said Amanda's lawyers would have filed a complaint following the Feb. 21 American airing as the grizzly scenes she and the Kerchers objected to would by then be viewed along with the rest of the film. He said that Lifetime would do well listening to the criticism coming at them from all sides.
"Have they upset the Kercher family? Yes," Mellas said. "Raffaele's family? Yes. Amanda's family? Yes. The prosecution, police? Yes. Perhaps they should be adult about this and pull the movie until the case is done. They've already made their money with all this publicity. Yesterday Amanda was 'number one' in searches on Yahoo (Trends) because of this movie."
But director Robert Dornhelm defended his film, again in Corriere della Sera, "The story of Meredith is tragic for everyone involved, for the young participants and also for their parents, because there are two mothers who lost their daughters, one is dead and another is in jail," he said. "What interests me most is to make the psychology and personality of Meredith, rather than the crime committed and the search for those responsible. The world is not just white or black, therefore anybody can be in the wrong place at the wrong time that is why it is not surprising that the dark side of a person can emerge and that very person is capable of doing something terrible."