I began exploring the intersection of memory and law after hearing the story of Penny Beerntsen, who was assaulted while running on a beach in 1985 — and who misidentified her assailant in the subsequent investigation. There’s a term for what she experienced: “memory contamination.” It’s when investigators influence an interview with a subject, resulting in inaccurate information.
Moved by Ms. Beerntsen’s account as well as her openness about it, I wanted to help share her story more broadly. (Her case became well known when her misidentified assailant’s account was featured in the series “Making a Murderer;” the show does not include Ms. Beerntsen’s perspective.) We started working together on this documentary project, in which we tried to capture the concept of memory contamination in a visual way.
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